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If Stuart Lancaster is staying at Leinster beyond this summer, he isn't saying. Yet. 

The former England head coach is senior coach at the province, and his current deal expires at the end of the season.

The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had forced contract talks to be put on hold towards the end of last year.

Here and there, however, there have been green shoots regarding new deals across the provinces and within the IRFU.

Paul O'Connell's hiring as Ireland line-out coach suggested the lines of communication are open once again. While the likes of Ulster have been handing out new deals to some of their squad.

Lancaster is seen as a key component to Leinster's domestic domination under Leo Cullen, and it's hoped the 51-year old can remain beyond his current deal.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Scarlets, he laughed off speculation regarding his future saying, "Yes there's plenty of chat, I see.

"I certainly haven't committed to anything at the moment, but there's plenty of talks going on behind the scenes.

"And, yeah I'm very happy here."

When asked if he's been approached by other clubs with the clock ticking on his contract, Lancaster replied, "There's always plenty of interest, and plenty of chat.

"I'm very happy here, and my family are.

"The problem is the commute [to England and back] at the moment, obviously that's not happening the way it used to.

"But I'm at a very good club at the moment so I'm happy."

Away from the negotiating table, Tadhg Furlong is poised to make his long-awaited return for Leinster this weekend.

The tighthead prop hasn't played since last February due to a succession of back, hamstring and calf injuries.

Furlong was named in Andy Farrell's 36-man Six Nations squad, despite a lack of recent activity.

"He's trained today [Monday]," Lancaster informed a media call.

"We've got training tomorrow so hopefully - if he comes through that - that's the plan that we're going to involve him this week with a view to hopefully going into the Ireland camp after that."

Leinster revealed on Monday that Jonathan Sexton had suffered a minor muscle injury in their narrow win over Munster at the weekend.

But Lancaster has allayed fears that the out-half could miss Ireland's game away to Wales, saying, "Speaking to him after the game he was pretty optimistic.

"I think all the news since then has been pretty optimistic too."

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