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Stringer moves to McCall’s Saracens

By Niall Crozier

Munster's Ireland Grand Slam winning scrum-half Peter Stringer has joined Mark McCall’s Saracens on a three-month contract.

Former Ulster captain and coach McCall is the English Premiership champions’ Director of Rugby and with injuries to scrum-halves Neil de Cock and Richard Wigglesworth having left Saracens facing a crisis they approached Munster with the proposal of a loan deal.

Stringer — with 98 Irish caps and 211 Munster appearances including two Heineken Cup final triumphs — turns 34 on December 13 and with Conor Murray and Tomas O’Leary now ahead of him in the provincial pecking order the offer proved too good to refuse.

Stringer said: “I believe I still have a lot to offer and want to continue to play at the highest level.

“In the situation I currently find myself, that is outside the Munster match day squad, I think this temporary switch to Saracens will serve my ambition best.

“This offers me a new challenge and I’m grateful to Munster management for their co-operation.”

Munster coach Tony McGahan said: “We recognise the situation Peter finds himself in.

“We are happy to accommodate this short term arrangement and wish Peter well.”

Meanwhile Aironi — Ulster’s Heineken Cup Pool 4 opponents each of the next two weekends — have signed 88-times capped Italian flanker Mauro Bergamasco.

He joins from Stade Français after signing a contract until the end of the season — with an option for a second year — and will be added to the Heineken Cup list in place of the injured Nick Williams.

He is expected to make his Aironi debut against Ulster in Monza on December 17.

“After eight years in France I have come back to Italy to bring my experience and my will to continue to play at the highest level with the Aironi squad,” Bergamasco said.

Aironi president Silvano Melegari said: “We are really happy and proud to bring to Viadana Mauro Bergamasco.”

lEngland hooker Steve Thompson has been forced to retire with immediate effect after suffering another neck injury.

Thompson has been experiencing numbness and dizziness since hitting a scrum machine in training with Wasps on October 26 and he will have an operation tomorrow.

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