Ireland head coach Declan Kidney is looking for the squad's fringe players to add greater strength in depth this season.
Kidney’s side secured the RBS6 Nations Championship and their first Grand Slam in 61 years in March.
But a number of leading players are reaching the apex of their careers, and Kidney is anxious they should have sufficient resources to cover should injuries and retirements take their toll on the squad.
John Hayes, Malcolm O’Kelly, Alan Quinlan, Girvan Dempsey and Bernard Jackman are all in their mid-30s, while Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Gordon D’Arcy will be in their early 30s by the 2011 World Cup.
Asked if the coaches were planning for all eventualities, Kidney said: “We’re doing that.
“It would be wrong of me to say we are not doing that. But I wouldn’t rule any of them out. Maybe that’s overly optimistic of me. You have to be like that in this game sometimes. We have planned that. But I wouldn’t be great for shouting out what we are doing.”
“In our own minds we’d have 60-odd players that we’ve earmarked. We feel we would know the best three or four guys in each position. Form will fluctuate and they will develop at different paces. They have to fight their corners in the shop window of the provinces.”