"I'd love to finish on home soil but I can't see it. I won't be playing in the next Six Nations"
"I think I speak for all the girls when I say I'm pretty numb, emotional and upset."
Lindsay Peat made her Ireland debut in her mid 30s and, over the past six years, has amassed 37 caps since then. Given the squad's recent World Cup heartbreak, she fears it could be 37 and out.
A disappointing 2017 World Cup saw Ireland, who had hosted the tournament, finish 8th. That meant they had to qualify for the 2021 edition, which has since been moved to 2022, in New Zealand. Ireland went into the qualifiers as favourites to secure the one automatic spot on offer, but defeats to Spain and Scotland mean they will not compete at next year's World Cup.
Peat turns 41 the weekend before Ireland host the first of their two November internationals against the USA [they face Japan on November 20]. As much as the Leinster prop would dearly love to run out in front of an Irish crowd with her son, Barra at her side, she is a realist. There will be no retirement statement, but Ireland may look to the next generation as they seek to build from the rubble.
On the latest House of Rugby URC episode [LISTEN from 1:30 below], Peat spoke with hosts Greg O'Shea, Megan Williams and Jason Hennessy about her desire to play on for Ireland, while acknowledging she may never get the chance again.
"No disrespect to the quality of teams," Lindsay Peat says of that Italy-based qualifying event, "but with the time we had together, we really should have qualified. I'm heartbroken. I really am heartbroken.
"I'm at the latter end [of my playing career]. I know there are a lot of young girls coming up that have a great future ahead of them, but to not be on the world stage - the biggest tournament in the home of rugby, New Zealand - it's numb now, but it'll be pretty raw when it kicks off in a years' time."
Having endured a frustrating 2020, when all women's games will affected by the Covid pandemic, and disrupted 2021, the Ireland team now have seven likely fixtures coming up over the next five months. While Claire Molloy has retired, it is worth noting that veterans Peat and Sene Naoupu (37) have not followed her in stepping away from the international game.
Asked by Greg O'Shea if she was hell-bent on continuing in the green jersey 'for another few years', Peat commented:
"I'm not sure about that, now. Looking at the person I am, I definitely will stay in sport.
"I have a young son and I will be 41 now in November. Now that we haven't qualified for a World Cup... I'd love to finish on home soil but I can't see [how]. I won't be playing in the next Six Nations.
"I don't see myself going there, because I think it's time for us to use the next period of time to blood some new players. We need to have a big Six Nations to help towards the new World Rugby championship in 2023. No decisions made yet, but it definitely won't be long.
"I certainly won't take that question for Sene. She is an absolute machine and a world-class player.
"I'd also like to take the opportunity to say a huge congratulations to Claire Molloy on an absolutely stellar career. I know we talk about the men's and women's teams but, as a 7, she was world-class and she will be a loss to the game of rugby. She left at the top. She's an amazing person and player."
Having played in front of empty stadiums in sparing outings for province and country, over the past 19 months, Peat would love to pull on that green jersey in November.
Barra is five, going on six, and she would cherish the memory of getting him along to an Ireland swan song, if she got the chance.
She is not walking away. The women's squad announcement, in the coming days, may tell us all more.
WATCH THAT FULL INTERVIEW HERE: