Munster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions lock Paul O'Connell has spoken out on the future of the Heineken Cup, saying he hopes there is a resolution.
European rugby is currently in political turmoil, with English and French sides poised to break away from the pack thanks to what they feel are unfair disparities in the qualification format and distribution of monies. ERC have officially appointed an independent mediator, with parties due to meet again in mid-October. As it stands, there will be no cross-border European tournament beyond the end of this season.
The second-row, who has won over 80 caps for Ireland, and captained the Lions on their 2009 tour of South Africa, states his focus remains on returning to action on the field, and that there is little more he can do besides trust those in positions of power to sort things out.
"It's very hard to speculate on what's going to happen, whether the competition is going to go or a new one arrives in its place," he told the Irish Examiner.
"Hopefully the administrators make the right decision for rugby in Europe in general and that the provinces are in a good place at the end of the negotiations, but for us it's hard to know what's going on so it's not something I let worry me and that I stay focused on just getting back playing."
O'Connell is still recovering from the rigours of the Lions tour of Australia, but the arm injury that kept him out of the final two test matches Down Under looks to be fully healed. After a pre-season that has been largely stop-start thanks to several niggling grievances, the Irishman is now hitting training hard with Munster.
"I've been back training flat out for the last few weeks so hopefully I'm back playing properly soon. Last season I was delighted to get back and then earn a place in the Lions squad and really enjoyed that. It was disappointing for me how it finished but that's life and it's the same now again," he added.
"It wasn't the worst injury in the world to pick up, there is still a lot you can do and areas where you can still train so I'm just looking forward to getting a full season under my belt and to reach the same fitness I had when I went with the Lions and trying to push on a little bit. It's exciting times with Munster and Ireland so I'm just looking forward to being part of that."