Ronan O’Gara could make an immediate return to the Ireland squad for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with France – just days after coach Declan Kidney appeared to signal his Test career was over.
A hamstring strain sustained by Paddy Jackson in training could see Leinster’s Ian Madigan start at fly-half at the Aviva Stadium, forcing Kidney to recall O’Gara.
Only on Sunday Ireland’s most capped player, with 128 appearances, was omitted from an extended squad, effectively demoting him to fourth choice in the position.
But Jackson’s injury could see O’Gara, who turns 36 tomorrow, receive an SOS call from Kidney.
“Absolutely not would I mind asking Ronan back, I’d be delighted. There was no fun whatsoever in leaving him out,” Kidney said
“I’d only be too delighted. It wouldn’t be an awkward conversation from my side, absolutely not. I’m sure he’d love to play for Ireland, he’s always loved playing for Ireland and he’d continue to do that.
“Ronan will have been disappointed. You don’t give the type of service that Ronan has given and not be disappointed.
“It’s the role of the coach to make these calls and I felt Ian had been going well and deserved his chance.
“But it’s unfair to put Ronan in that spotlight. Everybody is centrally contracted, so everyone is available to play for Ireland at any stage. We have 20 guys on standby. We’d call someone in when need be. Everyone is alerted.”
A confused team announcement yesterday saw Kidney make conflicting statements on the process for selecting.
First he indicated that Jackson would start only to then state that a decision between who of Jackson and Madigan would be given the nod would be made last night.
A few minutes later the call had been postponed until tomorrow before finally announcing that he knew the identity of his fly-half, but he wanted to speak to the two players first before making it public.
The reality is that Jackson will start if fit with the uncapped Madigan on standby should he fail to recover, with the latter scenario resulting in the return of O’Gara.
Kidney must finalise his team for the showdown in Dublin tomorrow afternoon.