There was considerable speculation after the national team’s disappointing performance against Italy last weekend that Stringer would be recalled to the squad and be in line to win his 96th cap against the champions.
However, national coach Declan Kidney is remaining true to Tomás O’Leary, who started against Italy, and Eoin Reddan, who came into the fray for the final 16 minutes.
Instead of being in Dublin for the national camp, Stringer yesterday joined his Munster team mates for their session at the University of Limerick ahead of the Treviso game.
Unless an unforeseen mishap befalls O’Leary or Reddan over the next few days, the scrum-half berth rests between leaving Stringer to ponder if his international career may be at an end though he has been playing great rugby in recent months. The speed of his pass is a major weapon and contrasts favourably with O’Leary’s more laboured service, although he lacks the latter’s physical presence in high intensity games.
Kidney’s recent handling of Stringer has been difficult to comprehend. He was kept in camp on the week the Wolfhounds lost to Scotland with O’Leary at scrum-half. O’Leary was then restored to favour having been omitted from the squad and Stringer was released.
O’Leary was chosen to start against Italy on Saturday while Isaac Boss and Paul Marshall filled the number nine jersey in the Wolfhounds defeat of the English Saxons the previous day.
Munster manager Shaun Payne wasn’t complaining yesterday as he outlined a number of his plans for the future and his satisfaction at having Stringer available for the visit to Treviso.
Payne said: “Anything is possible, you get scrum-half injuries at national camp and there’s nothing to stop Peter being called up. As of now, though, he’s with us and will be going to Italy. It’s a great bonus for us, not least because we have ten players with the national squad and obviously quite a few injuries as well.”
Munster yesterday revealed that Doug Howlett will be remaining for a fourth year, that Ian Keatley has completed his end of season move from Connacht and that Paddy Butler, Scott Deasy, Dave Foley, Darragh Hurley, Felix Jones, Conor Murray, Ian Nagle, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony and Mike Sherry have all signed full senior contracts. Other contract negotiations continue with Payne stating that the rule is being run over some major overseas names.
“Yes, they’re both great players”, he smiled at the mention of All Blacks Richie McCaw and Ma Nonu.
Munster, currently Magners League table toppers by nine points, have yet to finalise a squad ahead of Sunday’s visit to Treviso. Ten players, Keith Earls, Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary, Denis Hurley, Donnacha Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Mick O’Driscoll, David Wallace and Denis Leamy, are in Dublin as part of the national camp while Jerry Flannery is just one of a number on the injured list.
However, John Hayes and Tony Buckley trained at UL yesterday with the latter likely to be considered for the Treviso game and hooker Denis Fogarty, available again after long term injury, is sure to be involved.
Payne: “Some of those national players will be released on Friday afternoon which obviously makes it difficult in that we travel on Saturday morning from Dublin. That would mean no training on their part and that wouldn’t be the ideal scenario but I’m sure that if any become available, Tony (McGahan) will consider his options.”