Joe Schmidt has revealed that he will decide whether to coach Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup after this year's tour to South Africa.
The head coach's current contract expires in June 2017.
Schmidt has delivered two Six Nations titles during his time in charge of Ireland so far and he is likely to be top of the list for any vacant roles at that time next year.
Recognising the importance of decision, the former Leinster boss is eager to make it quickly.
"That's something I've committed to making a decision on once we get back from Africa really," Schmidt told PA.
"It's really important that there is a clear pathway for players to know that there's some continuity there, or if that continuity is going to be with someone else, that there's a span of enough time that they can get the game up and running as they see it best being played.
"I am conscious of my responsibility there."
A factor in Schmidt's decision will be his family, including the long-term well-being of his son Luke who suffers from epilepsy.
He added: "There's some factors outside of rugby that tend to dictate for me.
"We'll be a little bit further down the track with some of those decisions as well."