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Hayes absence from Munster squad signals end of road for Red legend

JOHN Hayes could have played his last game for Munster after the province confirmed they have no plans to extend his contract beyond the World Cup.

The legendary prop will turn 38 in November and was left out the 45-man squad published by the province earlier this week, fuelling speculation that he is set to retire after the tournament in New Zealand.

The Cappaghmore man has played 201 times for Munster, winning two Heineken Cups and two Celtic Leagues during his 13- year stint. He has won 104 caps for Ireland, but has been out of favour at international level since the November Series.

"John Hayes is contracted to Munster until after the World Cup. The squad announced on our website is the one contracted for the 2011/12 season," a Munster spokesperson said.

The veteran was named in Declan Kidney's extended squad for the World Cup warm-up and reported for pre-season training at Carton House this week.

If he doesn't make the final cut, he would be available for Munster in the first two months of the season. His last game was the Celtic League Grand Final win over Leinster, after which he declined to be drawn on his long-term future.

The Munster squad assembled in Cork yesterday to begin pre-season training minus the Irish players and coach Tony McGahan, who has been detained briefly in Australia due to a bout of illness.

New signings BJ Botha and Ian Keatley were among the new faces, while 11 academy players have been handed full-time contracts for this season.

Irish Independent