Ireland have denied the decision to omit Ronan O'Gara from an extended squad for the RBS 6 Nations clash with France signals the end of his Test career.
For the first time in 13 years O'Gara's name was absent from the 32 called to the squad's Carton House training camp to continue preparations for Saturday's showdown at the Aviva Stadium. Instead, Leinster pair Jonathan Sexton and Ian Madigan and Ulster's Paddy Jackson were the three fly-halves present.
"Ronan continues to provide value whenever he's around the camp. I have every faith that he will put his hand up and say 'I'm still part of this picture'," said assistant coach Les Kiss. "That's how I see him responding at this stage. Without a doubt he'll be disappointed, but nothing's finished yet and he could be back in the picture pretty quickly."
Kiss' view was shared by team manager Mick Kearney, who also defended the manner in which the news was broken. A two-paragraph statement released by the Irish Rugby Football Union on Sunday night made no mention of the exclusion of O'Gara, who has been an ever-present among Ireland squads since making his debut in 2000.
"I don't think this marks the end of Ronan's international career. There's still every possibility that he may be involved again," Kearney said.
"By leaving him out of the squad for France, it certainly wasn't Declan's (Kidney, head coach) intention that he was writing off his international career. That's not the case at all.
"It's a selection call. Declan spoke to Ronan yesterday. He wanted to give Ronan advance warning of what his thinking would be.
"If Ronan had come in he'd have been running in the centre or on the wing. Out of respect, Declan didn't want him to do that. Giving him an early warning was the right thing to do, given who Ronan is. He was disappointed, as you'd expect him to be.
"Obviously Ronan is an absolute legend of Irish rugby who has contributed a massive amount, but it wouldn't have been the right thing to do for Declan or the management to issue a statement.
"It wasn't that we were signalling the end of his career, there's still a decent possibility that Ronan will be involved before the end of the Six Nations. If that's the case, I don't think a statement would have served any real purpose."