Denis Leamy has described Munster team-mate John Hayes as ‘a legend’.
Hayes played the full 80 minutes in Munster’s Grand Final triumph over Leinster at the weekend but his future is uncertain.
There has been much talk that the 37-year-old will call time on his illustrious career before the start of next season, with this year’s World Cup being mooted as a possible swansong.
And while neither Munster or the man himself have made an official announcement, Leamy says that if retirement is the path Hayes takes, he will leave the game with one hell of a reputation.
“He’s just a great example as a player,” Leamy told the Irish Times after Munster beat their bitter rivals 19-9 to claim Magners League glory at Thomond Park.
“He kept his head down, was quiet, never complained, shied away from all media and cameras and just did his job incredibly well and dealt with criticism and dealt with the highs and everything so well.
“He’s just a great example to young players and is the hardest man you could ever meet. He’s really, really made of steel.
“I think he probably deserves a rest, to be fair, after however long he’s been around, 13-14 years here at the top and he deserves his break.
“If the guy does decide to come back to rugby and around here he’ll be welcomed back with open arms. He’s a legend.”
As for Hayes himself, the Ireland and Lions prop insisted no decision had yet been made as to whether he would add to his 78 Magners League appearances.
“I don’t know, that’s the honest answer,” explained Hayes when asked whether he would be putting his feet up next term.
“I’ll just wait and see how it goes. I feel fine now, but it’s like anything, when you get a win things don’t hurt. But it’s the end of the season and I’m looking forward to a break now.”