Monday 18 December 2017

Moore kept in cotton wool

Cullen aims to mend his broken men in the PRO12

Marty Moore arrives at Ireland squad training Pic: Sportsfile
Marty Moore arrives at Ireland squad training Pic: Sportsfile

Where is Martin Moore? It is one for which Sherlock Holmes might have trouble finding the answer.

Apparently, the 24 year-old is due to discover today whether he will be involved against Wales on Saturday or whether he will have to detour to Leinster or even hold off for another week.

The valuable tight-head option has not played a single minute of rugby as Ireland prepare for the third of four pre-World Cup internationals against Wales on Saturday.

He was lumped into the same category as Luke Fitzgerald and Seán Cronin as three men on their way back from shoulder surgery on roughly the same time schedule.

Left wing Fitzgerald made it back for a full 80 minutes against Scotland last Saturday week; hooker Cronin for just over an hour in the same game.

The wise word was that Moore would eventually find game time for Leinster against Ulster in the first of their two pre-season matches last Friday night.

There was no sign of him. The sands of time are slipping away for one of the few Irish rugby players, similar to Mike Ross, who has to boil down his weight, not build it up.

The Ireland management and medical team have wrapped Moore up in cotton wool, like Cian Healy, leaving it as late as possible before his return to play.


In the meantime, former Waikato Chiefs captain Nathan White managed to shake off the jinx of injury to make his debut against Scotland over the course of 28 minutes.

Michael Bent has played his way into contention as a prop able to cover both sides of the scrum with two solid quarter-long cameos against Wales and Scotland.

The case for Tadhg Furlong has been ruined by a niggling injury which zapped all his pre-season momentum.

The plan for wing option Andrew Trimble was to train yesterday from a foot injury so that he could augment his argument for inclusion in what is the most difficult selection area for coach Joe Schmidt.

There has been a lot of chatter about Dave Kearney, but little visual evidence to back it up. He is another who needs to play this weekend.

As do Fergus McFadden and Tommy Bowe, who hasn't found his sharpness, just yet.

Meanwhile, Leinster coach Leo Cullen will soon find out how many of his 23 players will return to the province when Schmidt names his 31-man World Cup squad next week.

"We had 23 in the initial group and we had Zane Kirchner away with South Africa as well," he said, at the launch of the PRO12 League in London yesterday.

"All the while, it is just trying to communicate with the relevant people so we have a handle on when those guys are going to get integrated back into our programme.

"The Irish squad to go to the World Cup will get announced at the start of next week and then we will be in a situation where we can head into the early part of the season with those bodies," added Cullen.

He will have to recharge the batteries of men with broken dreams.

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