Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll hopes the operation that is likely to end his season could have the benefit of extending his career.
O'Driscoll will go under the knife next week to release the trapped nerve that has troubled him for the past year, and faces six months of rehabilitation. The 32-year-old is contracted to the Irish Rugby Football Union until 2013, but believes the setback may enable him to delay retirement.
"In a strange way a little break like this can give you the incentive to go on and play for longer than you anticipated. I certainly feel like I have plenty more to offer," he said. "This gives me the chance to go away, refocus and set more goals for the latter part of my career."
He added: ""When the operation is done I'll be able to come back and get some quality rehab done and then set an exact date to return.
"The latter stages of the Heineken Cup is something to target. I'll know more about how I'm feeling and if I'm getting stronger in the weeks after the operation.
"I'll be able to set those targets better as time passes. I've been out for six months before and know how to cope with these things.
"I see myself coming back from this and playing for certainly another season. Who knows after that, let's see how the body feels."
O'Driscoll will definitely miss the RBS 6 Nations and, depending on how Leinster perform in the Heineken Cup and Magners League, he may have little opportunity to play in April or May.
He was clearly operating below full throttle during the recent World Cup and, after seeking expert advice, it was decided he required an operation.
"It's a trapped nerve starting from my neck and running down into my arm," he said. "I need the operation for general life, not just from a rugby point of view."