herald

Saturday 25 November 2017

O'Connell given time to recover

Paul O'Connell will be given every chance to prove his fitness for Ireland's summer tour -- but a contingency plan has been drawn up in case he fails to recover in time.

The Lions captain was a surprise inclusion in the 33-man squad for the three-match itinerary, which includes Tests in New Zealand and Australia and a clash with the NZ Maori.

However, the case for leaving O'Connell at home was strong. The Munster second-row has been engaged in a worrying battle with a groin injury since Ireland's final Six Nations outing against Scotland, and allowing him time to make a full recovery over a protracted period made sense heading into a World Cup year.

Such is his importance to Ireland's cause that running the risk of further complications on a tough trip to the southern hemisphere is a big call.

"There are four weeks until we play New Zealand and six weeks until we play Australia," said Kidney. "You don't write off a player of Paul's calibre until you have to. There's a contingency plan in place in case he doesn't recover."

John Hayes' latest Irish sojourn carries on a remarkable story that has run for 11 seasons and 102 caps.

Although he has been ear-marked as Ireland's first-choice tighthead up to and including the World Cup, he is being targeted by opponents and a Plan B has not been developed.

The squad contains three uncapped players, Ulster back-row Chris Henry and lock Dan Tuohy add cover in the pack and Leinster centre Fergus McFadden comes into the backs.

Denis Hurley, Gavin Duffy and Fionn Carr are unlucky to miss out but, in the likes of Shane Horgan and Andrew Trimble, Kidney has gone with the been-there brigade.

As well as O'Connell, Rory Best, Jerry Flannery and a selection of others have had injury issues recently and Kidney confirmed that a panel of 13 players were on stand-by.

"We've tried to balance the mix of youth and experience," said Kidney.

"When you're playing the top teams in the world you need all the experience you have because there will be no hiding place and you will be exposed."

LEINSTER expect to find out today whether Stan Wright will be available for the Magners League final against the Ospreys on May 29 after the prop was cited for an alleged punch on Alan Quinlan during the province's semi-final win over Munster last weekend.

Biarritz centre Damien Traille will miss Saturday's all-French Heineken Cup final against Toulouse at the Stade de France because he has not recovered from an arm injury.

Ireland squad -- Forwards: R Best (Ulster), T Buckley (Munster), T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Connacht), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster), C Henry (Ulster), M Horan (Munster), S Jennings (Leinster), K McLaughlin (Leinster), J Muldoon (Connacht), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), D Tuohy (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster). Backs: T Bowe (Ospreys), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), S Horgan (Leinster), R Kearney (Leinster), F McFadden (Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), R O'Gara (Munster), T O'Leary (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster), P Stringer (Munster), A Trimble (Ulster), P Wallace (Ulster).

Promoted articles

Entertainment News