Munster will welcome back veteran scrum-half Peter Stringer with open arms if the 33-year-old misses out on a World Cup place when Declan Kidney announces his Ireland squad next week.
Stringer has been released back to Munster for their pre-season friendly against Wasps on Friday, and manager Shaun Payne admits there will be mixed feelings in the camp if he is available for the start of the RaboDirect PRO 12 season.
Munster rivals Conor Murray and Tomas O’Leary will both feature for Ireland, against Connacht and France respectively, and with Isaac Boss and Eoin Reddan also in contention, Stringer’s World Cup chances appear slim.
But with the reigning champions set to be missing a large part of their first team during the World Cup, Payne admits the return of the veteran nine could prove a timely boost.
“We will take Strings any day,” Payne told the Limerick Leader.
“There is no doubt it must be a tough time for Strings as it is for any international player coming up to a World Cup.
“Everyone wants to be involved in a World Cup. It is a perfectly natural wish. It can’t be great for him.
“If there is anything you know about Strings it is that he will give 100% to the cause.
“We have a lot of quality scrum halves in our squad. It is never over until the squad is named. Anything could still happen. It is up to people to draw their own conclusions at this stage.”
The saying goes that one man’s pain is another man’s gain, and young scrum-half Murray looks set to book a seat on to the plane to New Zealand at the expense of his more experienced teammate.
And Payne revealed Murray’s rapid rise had shocked nobody at Thomond Park.
“Conor’s displays at the back end of last season came as no surprise to us,” he added.
“We have tracked him right up through the Academy. We always saw what he was capable of.
“He is fulfilling that potential now. It is not only great for us, but great for Ireland too.”