18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
The current Magners League table does not make pretty reading for Munster supporters, but new captain Paul O'Connell hopes that is about to change.
Declan Kidney's side are well off the pace, which is currently being set by the Llanelli Scarlets, as they lie second from bottom after four rounds of action.
The 9-8 win over the Borders has been Munster's only crumb of comfort so far this season, so there is added importance to their provincial derbies against Ulster and Leinster over the next six days.
O'Connell, whose captaincy role was confirmed last Monday, feels as much - two wins would put his side right back in the league's mix, especially with their game in hand.
With O'Connell, Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, Marcus Horan and Donncha O'Callaghan all back in harness, Munster will provide stern opposition for Ulster this evening (Musgrave Park, kick-off 7.30pm).
Calling on his team-mates to concentrate on the here and now, the big lock said: "The Heineken Cup win is in the past now and all the talk is about the next two games. They are hugely important for us, in terms of how our season will progress.
"At the moment, some of us are a small bit rusty, whereas Ulster have been more settled during the campaign so far and have become a very tidy and cohesive team."
On the issue of skippering his province, O'Connell simply said: "I just hope I can continue to raise the standards that my predecessors in the job did. Gaillimh (Mick Galwey) and Axel (Anthony Foley), and the others before them, were excellent leaders and it's a fantastic honour to be following in their footsteps."
O'Connell did not have anyone challenging him, in an election-style race, for the captaincy. Munster coach Declan Kidney confirmed how the Young Munster clubman had come to succeed number eight Foley.
"We asked the players who would be right for the job," conceded Kidney. "We took those nominations and discussed the top ones. We then came back to the squad with a proposal and they agreed on it.
"We are fortunate that we have a number of players who could captain the team. I could name five or six such players and the important thing was to get the best one. We knew whoever was chosen would be given every support by the other players.
He added: "There was no vote (for the captaincy) between any two players. We asked if they wanted a vote and all the players said no. I'm glad of that as it would not be good policy to put two people in front of the others for a vote. I think that would be poor management."