Munster may be in a state of upheaval, but coach Tony McGahan suggested yesterday that all efforts would be made to keep promising lock-forward Ian Nagle at the province for the foreseeable future.
The Corkman (22) has attracted rave reviews with his performances in the Magners League this season and also caught the eye with a man-of-the-match performance against Australia last November.
Northampton Saints are one side thought to be keeping tabs on the Cork Con tyro, but McGahan yesterday confirmed his eagerness to keep Nagle on Munster's books.
"Ian is certainly a very important part of our plans at this point in time going forward," he said. "We're in a day and age where agents look for the best interests of their players by putting them forward to English and French clubs, that's part and parcel of their jobs.
"From our perspective we would be very keen to keep Ian because we think he's got a very good future in front of him. There is a big block of games coming up in the Six Nations that he'll be part of, and going forward with the World Cup and Six Nations next year there will be plenty of opportunities."
Meanwhile, club captain Paul O'Connell urged his team-mates to "hang in there" as they attempt to weather a particularly doom-laden storm and regroup ahead of Saturday's final pool match against London Irish. O'Connell admitted he felt as low as he had ever done before on the return flight from Toulon last Sunday, but insisted that Munster now needed to show their true mettle and tough it out.
"I think we will turn the corner, but we just have to stick at it, not lose faith, and not be broken by what people are saying about us," said the 70 times capped international. "At the moment there is a lot of criticism being levelled at us and it's probably justified. We haven't performed, none of us think we have performed, so we have to be tough now and grin and bear it.
"There's nothing you can do in a week that can transform everything. All you can do is work hard and that's what we'll do this week. Guys have to be mentally strong and diligent in their work, in their training and in their preparation.
"You just come out of these things by staying strong and by working hard. We had a very disappointing World Cup in 2007 and it didn't turn around straight away during the 2008 Six Nations, but by 2009 we had won a Grand Slam. So, (maybe we can do) something similar with Munster."
On the injury front, McGahan confirmed that Jerry Flannery is still four weeks away from a return to action, despite his inclusion in Declan Kidney's Ireland squad.
Marcus Horan, meanwhile, has made a return to full training, and should feature for Shannon over the next fortnight.