Thursday 17 January 2019

Cronin is hit for six

Leinster hooker could be out for three months with hamstring tear

Seán Cronin of Leinster limps off the pitch during the Guinness PRO12 match against Zebre at the RDS last weekend. Pic: Sportsfile
Seán Cronin of Leinster limps off the pitch during the Guinness PRO12 match against Zebre at the RDS last weekend. Pic: Sportsfile

Sean Cronin has received the results of a second scan to confirm the Leinster hooker will probably miss the Six Nations.

It is believed there will be anything up to three months involved in his rehabilitation of a hamstring tear.

The robust Rory Best is Ireland's captain and guaranteed number one for the foreseeable future.

Behind him, Cronin had settled into his role as a real final quarter change-up just as bodies tire and concentration slips.

What few have considered is how Cronin might fit into Warren Gatland's plan for New Zealand.

It would seem likely that Best and Dylan Hartley will duke it out for the test slot.

Jamie George provides sudden impact off the bench for England. Cronin plays that role for Ireland.

The Limerickman has the required skills set and X-Factor explosive speed that can be his point of difference.

Now, the plan to be central to Ireland's Six Nations looks to be in ruins and, by extension, his goal to make the plane to the Land of the Long White Cloud could crumble with it.

"He'd been going really well," reported scrum coach John Fogarty. "Even before the game he was nice and sharp, throwing well in warm-up, everything was looking quite good."


Then, Cronin found Devin Toner at a 72nd minute line-out against Zebre and immediately received the ball back from his lock.

The 0-to-60 acceleration onto the ball could have been a factor in the tear to his right hamstring which was greeted with a painful cry.

This comes as a cruel blow to a man who has taken more than his fair share over the years.

There were three years at Munster (2005-2008) where his gifts did not quite fit in the game plan.

He moved to Connacht for three more years (2008-2011) in order to get better through game time, all in the name of gaining international honours.

It was there Cronin's career began to take an upward turn. He got what he wanted.

The international recognition from Ireland came with keen interest from Leinster.

The announcement of his move came in January 2011, four months before they won a second European Cup in three seasons.

In his first season, Cronin would appear off the bench (12) one more time than he would start (11) in what would also prove to be a trend for his country.

The breakdown of Richardt Strauss's body is only part of the reason for rise rise to first choice.

Cronin's reputation for impact is most pronounced for Ireland when just nine of his 56 caps have come from the start.

This should not devalue his service or his capacity to play the cameo role about as well as anyone can.

This strength still could take Gatland's eye.

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