Rory Best has admitted he expects to retire after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Ireland captain will win his 116th cap in Sunday's Guinness Six Nations clash against France in Dublin, but now intends to bring down the curtain on an international career dating back to 2005 before this calendar year is out.

The evergreen 36-year-old now hopes his Test swansong could be leading Ireland to a first-ever World Cup semi-final, and maybe even beyond, come the autumn tournament in Japan. 

"I think it's fairly certain that the World Cup will be the end for me," said Best.

"I think that I feel really good, I don't feel I'm playing any worse, I'm really enjoying rugby and part of that might be because I haven't 100 per cent made the decision.

"But I'm fairly sure it will be, and part of the reason I'm enjoying rugby so much, and I hope playing well, is because there's that weight lifted off.

"When you're playing, you start to get fixated with what's coming, or if you're playing well in this Six Nations you put yourself in the window for the World Cup.

"And if you play well in the World Cup there's two more Six Nations and you're in the window to the Lions tour.

"And you start to get bogged down with things that don't really matter."

Best added: "I'm feeling very relaxed now that the body feels that it's happy to go on.

"And at the minute, mentally I'm really enjoying the rugby.

"But I'm in a really lucky position at the minute that the way I'm feeling, I can go to the World Cup and be at the top of my game.

"And for me, the way I'm thinking at the minute, that will be a really good time for me.

"Plus Joe (Schmidt) said he didn't want me to keep going without him!"

Follow Ireland v France on Sunday (kick-off 3pm) via the live blog on RTÉ.ie/Sport and the News Now App, or listen live on RTÉ 2fm, with commentary from Michael Corcoran and Donal Lenihan.