Assistant coach Les Kiss is adamant Ronan O'Gara could still add to his 128 caps despite being dropped from Ireland's squad.
Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss is adamant that Ronan O'Gara could still add to his 128 Test caps despite being dropped from the squad named ahead of this weekend's clash with France.
O'Gara – who turns 36 on Thursday – was left out of Ireland's 32-man squad for the first time in 13 years, sparking speculation that his international career may be over.
The Munster veteran has now fallen behind Leinster pair Jonathan Sexton and Ian Madigan and Ulster's Paddy Jackson in the pecking order but Kiss insists 'ROG' could force his way back into Declan Kidney's plans.
“Ronan continues to provide value whenever he's around the camp. I have every faith that he will put his hand up and say 'I'm still part of this picture',” said Kiss.
“That's how I see him responding at this stage. Without a doubt he'll be disappointed, but nothing's finished yet and he could be back in the picture pretty quickly.”
Team manager Mick Kearney echoed Kiss's thoughts, adding there was no need for the IRFU to make any sort of statement.
“I don't think this marks the end of Ronan's international career. There's still every possibility that he may be involved again,” said Kearney.
“By leaving him out of the squad for France, it certainly wasn't Declan's intention that he was writing off his international career. That's not the case at all.
“It's a selection call. Declan spoke to Ronan yesterday. He wanted to give Ronan advance warning of what his thinking would be.
“If Ronan had come in he'd have been running in the centre or on the wing. Out of respect, Declan didn't want him to do that.
“Giving him an early warning was the right thing to do, given who Ronan is. He was disappointed, as you'd expect him to be.
“Obviously Ronan is an absolute legend of Irish rugby who has contributed a massive amount, but it wouldn't have been the right thing to do for Declan or the management to issue a statement.
“It wasn't that we were signaling the end of his career, there's still a decent possibility that Ronan will be involved before the end of the Six Nations.
“If that's the case, I don't think a statement would have served any real purpose.”
Sexton's availability for Saturday is still in doubt, potentially leaving Kidney to choice between retaining Jackson, who has just one cap, or giving Madigan his debut.
“Jonny has only been running in straight lines. The plan is that tomorrow (Tuesday) he will run as close as possible at full speed and take it on from then. Tomorrow will be a very important day,” said Kearney.
“It's very difficult to make a call at this stage. He hasn't been ruled out, but at best he's 50-50. He's done no kicking yet.”
Lock Donnacha Ryan and wing Craig Gilroy are struggling with shoulder and groin injuries, but second row Mike McCarthy has returned to full training having recovered from a knee problem.