10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The IRB, keen to avoid anymore negative publicity over the organisational debacle, intend making puiblic their decision in a low key manner and bring to an end a damaging saga that has been running now for over a year.
At the centre of New Zealand's removal from the original co-host agreement with Australia back in March after months of boardroom arguments was their failure to guarantee 100%clean stadia - venues free of any advertising and pre-booked corporate seating.
Months of tit-for-tat squabbling at boardroom level have blighted the competition's preparation already, but with the IRB council meeting in Dublin this week, a line will finally be drawn under the prolonged saga.
New Zealand Rugby Football Union chief executive David Rutherford has been vocal on his hope that the IRB will reinstate New Zealand as co-hosts, despite the row over clean' stadia, although noises from the IRB would seem to suggest a willingness to confirm Australia as sole hosts, with their plan already deemed acceptable by the Rugby World Cup Board.
The IRB did state however that other options would be put to the IRB council during talks this week, with the long-running dispute hopefully put to bed by Thursday's announcement.