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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 19 February, 2019
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Leinster open to the idea of signing Munster legend Peter Stringer

The 37-year-old is a free agent at the end of the season and Matt O’Connor says it ‘might be an opportunity for us’.

Stringer in action against Leinster back in 2011.
Stringer in action against Leinster back in 2011.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

LEINSTER HEAD COACH Matt O’Connor says signing Munster legend Peter Stringer may be a possibility for the province, with the 37-year-old’s Bath contract set to expire in the summer.

O’Connor indicated that Leinster were constantly on the lookout for quality Irish-qualified players, while also underlining that the province may lose Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss to the World Cup early next season.

Munster legend Stringer has been with Bath since 2013, having left his home province after winning Heineken Cups in 2006 and 2008. The popular scrum-half’s Ireland career saw him win 98 caps, although he never officially retired from international duty.

Bath announced last week that Stringer would leave the club at the end of the current campaign, with the player himself stating his excitement for the “next chapter of my rugby career elsewhere.”

Speaking at a press conference in the RDS this afternoon, O’Connor did not shoot down the idea of Stringer returning to Ireland next season.

“We’re looking at blokes all the time,” said O’Connor. “We’re probably in a position where we might lose two nines for the World Cup, going on the current [Ireland] ranking. So anyone who comes onto the market, especially Irish, is of interest to us.

We’re involved in that recruitment process the whole time, it’s a 12-month job and if there’s blokes we think can add value, and they fit the criteria, we’ll look at them.

“I think he [Stringer] is doing a great job for Bath. I think he’s been very good for them and if it was a World Cup slot, or whatever, well then it might be an opportunity for us.”

Munster fans would surely be pained at the sight of Stringer in a blue jersey, but the move would appear to be ideal for both parties. Leinster may well need an experienced scrum-half early next season and Stringer is currently looking for a new employer.

Niall Morris Niall Morris in Leinster colours in 2011. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The prospect of the 37-year-old mentoring the exciting Luke McGrath would be another positive of any move to secure Stringer.

Meanwhile, O’Connor indicated that he does not expect Niall Morris to be joining Leinster next season. The Dublin native has been with Leicester Tigers in England since 2011, having left his home province in search of increased game time.

While injury has impeded the 26-year-old’s progress this season, he is highly rated by the Premiership club. Morris is out of contract at the end of the season, although Tigers’ chief executive Simon Cohen today stated his confidence that the wing/fullback will pen a new deal to stay on.

O’Connor worked with Morris in his own time coaching Leicester, and while he does expect to see the Emerging Ireland back three player in Leinster colours again in the future, it’s unlikely to be next season.

I know Niall very well off the back of a couple of years at Leicester and Niall has expressed an interest to come back at some time,” said O’Connor.

“He doesn’t think the timing is right at the moment. He wants to be back at Leinster at some stage, but I don’t think it’s going to be next season.”

Similarly, O’Connor admitted Grenoble’s James Hart, also a Leinster native, is a player who may be of interest to the province in the coming seasons. The scrum-half is, however, contracted to the Top 14 side until 2017.

“James is a good player doing a good job for Grenoble,” said O’Connor. “All those guys, especially the Irish-qualified ones, are of interest to us.”

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Murray Kinsella

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