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Brian O'Driscoll fears Ireland will suffer if head coach Joe Schmidt decides against extending his contract beyond June 2017.
Schmidt is contracted to the IRFU until the end of June 2017 but he has the option of extending his deal until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and a decision on his future is expected later this month.
Since Schmidt's appointment in 2013, Ireland have won two Six Nations, defeated Australia and South Africa and went agonisingly close to beating the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium and O'Driscoll believes his departure would be a massive blow.
"It would leave a very big void. He has done a terrific job in Ireland, full stop. Ireland look competitive in every single game that they play," O'Driscoll told the Irish Independent at the launch of eir Sport.
"Even the game against Argentina, we got ourselves back in the mix before running out of steam in the World Cup and lost to a scoreline that eventually probably flattered them.
"So Ireland, irrespective of who takes the field now, you feel as if we have a chance of winning the game and playing the All Blacks twice this year there is a different feeling to what it would have been in years gone by."
Ireland have never progressed further than the quarter-finals of a World Cup and O'Driscoll admits his one regret is not playing under Schmidt at the 2011 tournament.
"You are always pretty hopeful under Joe Schmidt teams. I am envious that I didn't get to a World Cup under him," the former Ireland captain said.
"That is not to disrespect Declan Kidney or other coaches in any shape or form, but Joe's level of detail on top of the team that we had in 2011 would have been a lovely match. Joe's level of detail with any team would be a pretty good match."