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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Cronin hamstring could tear hooker away from Ireland's Six Nations

Sean Cronin leaves the pitch at the RDS last Friday. Pic: Sportsfile
Sean Cronin leaves the pitch at the RDS last Friday. Pic: Sportsfile

Sean Cronin has emerged as a serious doubt for Ireland's Six Nations campaign.

Ireland's back-up hooker to captain Rory Best pulled up with a hamstring injury against Zebre last Friday.

There are no such concerns about Jonathan Sexton, showing no after-effects from his hour at the RDS.

However, Cronin will be sent for a second scan this week for more detailed investigation into the exact extent of the damage done.

"That will tell us a hell of a lot more about term, time, all that kind of stuff" said scrum coach John Fogarty.

"He looked like he was in a bit of pain and if they're in pain like that then it's not a good sign.

"I hope it's not months, he's certainly not going to be here for the next week or two, that's for sure.

"They're going to take their time and make sure he's right."

It would seem coach Leo Cullen is left with a straight choice between Richardt Strauss and James Tracy to play against Montpellier.

The plight of injury has taken Strauss away from the game more times than anyone would like. He may have been gone, but not forgotten inside the club

"He came on against Munster and has gone really, really well through his training and he's someone that's a little bit forgotten at times.

"He's a quality player. He has a huge amount of experience in this competition, and for Ireland. "He's someone that we're excited to have on the field.

Shown Well

"He adds value, physically, but also in his chat and how he deals with other players."

Up-and-comer Tracy has shown up well this season.

"He's an exciting prospect, a very robust player, so you're getting value out of him at breakdowns, carries, tackle, maul," noted Fogarty.

"He's physically big, he's probably the biggest hooker we have, very strong and probably mentally robust as well."

The long-drawn out return of Rob Kearney from an ankle injury is nearing a positive conclusion.

Fogarty was not willing to be definitive, although he was optimistic: "He's on the pitch today, so, as far as I see it, if he's on the pitch then he's up for selection."

The Ireland full-back had to come through training yesterday and has to tomorrow to be cleared to return.

"It's exciting to have Rob back," ventured Fogarty.

"He obviously has that wealth of experience and was going quite well prior to his injury. He's coming back into a group of players with Rory O'Loughlin and Adam Byrne, who have gone really, really well."

Should Kearney complete both sessions, coach Leo Cullen will probably have to decide between between O'Loughlin and Byrne for one of the wing slots, as captain Isa Nacewa is a certainty for one.

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