The IRFU must respect Joe Schmidt's decision either way, but if he's leaning in any way towards staying in Ireland, they must do everything possible to ensure he signs a new deal.

If I was an IRFU official, I would happily crack open the chequebook and jot down the necessary figure.

He owes Ireland nothing and the foundations he has put in place will sustain us for years to come. But if there's a possibility he would be open to the idea of remaining in Ireland, we must do what is required to keep him.

It's difficult to predict what decision he will make and perhaps he has already made it. I've had conversations with people who are convinced he will leave, while others have assured me that he will stay put.

If he does choose to vacate the role, there are several candidates who will be recommended to take over.

Simon Easterby, Andy Farrell, Stuart Lancaster and Leo Cullen would all be the front-running options in my view, but do any of those guys possess the same coaching quality as Joe Schmidt?

That's a pivotal question for the IRFU to answer and if they feel none of these contenders could match Schmidt's skillset, then they must do everything in their power to extend his time in charge of Ireland.

While we await that crucial announcement, there's one more game of international rugby to enjoy before the end of Ireland's November Series.

Joe Schmidt

There are 14 changes in the team named to take on the USA this weekend, and there's plenty of scope there for guys to challenge for places in the regular starting line-up. Boys will be going out there with a point to prove on Saturday.

Tadhg Beirne is slotting into the second-row alongside Iain Henderson and if he has another fantastic game like he did against Italy, he'll really be putting his hand up to say 'Devin Toner, James Ryan, Iain Henderson - I can mix it with those guys.'

Will Addison is getting an opportunity at full-back and he played a lot there with Sale.

The two out-halves, Joey Carbery and Ross Byrne, will obviously be chomping at the bit too to get more game time. 

Carbery is a tremendous talent and his game management is improving all the time. Joe will be putting pressure on him and expecting him to time his calls correctly to steer the ship home. 

Rhys Ruddock is Mr Consistent and has become a regular captain of the somewhat weaker Ireland team.

Saturday is an opportunity for him to shake off that label and battle his way onto the bench for the bigger games, or perhaps even put himself into contention for some game time.

He's got all the credentials: he's a leader, he's a great ball carrier, a good lineout option and he's very fit. 

If he plays well he could really put himself in the frame, especially with the two European Cup games coming up. The door is slightly ajar for one of the back-rows to kind of slip in. 

John Cooney.

John Cooney will make his first start for Ireland at scrum-half, and to me, he has probably been Ulster's most consistent player this season. 

He'll be disappointed that he didn't feature in some of the big games against Argentina and New Zealand but he'll be hungry this weekend and eager to make a lasting impression on Schmidt.

If it's the fast open game I expect it to be, then USA might be a bit loose with the ball and Ireland like to retain possession. I can see Cooney really enjoying that style of rugby.

Ireland have picked up a few knocks and injuries during the November series, but those players should be well mended by the time the Six Nations comes into view next year.

Provided the players come through Saturday unscathed, we can be happy that the squad are in good health before the World Cup preparations start to ramp up.

It's also nice to reflect on the series with a first-ever home win against the All Blacks in the bank.

I was proud to witness the team make history in Dublin last weekend and the seven-point winning margin doesn't do justice to how dominant we were.

There was so much hype surrounding Brodie Retallick in the build-up to the game because he didn't play in Chicago in 2016 and I think it was fitting that Retallick ended up dropping the ball at the end to cost New Zealand a chance to draw. 

There's a raft of changes to the Ireland team for the USA game, but they're young players bristling with enthusiasm and they're going to deliver a performance that will give Schmidt something to think about.

USA are a work in progress and they've got to keep investing in all the right areas to continue growing the game. 

It'll pay dividends when it comes to the national team but I can only see one result this weekend. Ireland will dominate this USA team. 

Now, where's that cheque book?

Follow Ireland v USA via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 this Saturday (kick-off 6.30pm)