Friday 30 September 2016

Rob Kearney out of Six Nations finale

Published 14/03/2016 | 14:21

Rob Kearney will play no further part in this year's Six Nations
Rob Kearney will play no further part in this year's Six Nations

Rob Kearney has been ruled out of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland, paving the way for Simon Zebo to continue at full-back.

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Kearney missed Saturday's 58-15 win over Italy with hamstring trouble and after further assessment on Monday, Ireland have been forced to admit defeat in the British and Irish Lion's fitness bid.

Uncapped Munster flyer Andrew Conway has joined Ireland's squad as cover ahead of Saturday's final Six Nations game at Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

Zebo deputised for Kearney in Saturday's nine-try thumping of Italy and is now in line for the number 15 shirt again as Ireland chase victory over Scotland to line up a third-place finish.

"Rob Kearney's hamstring hasn't recovered sufficiently and he will not be involved in Ireland camp this week," the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) announced in a statement.

Head coach Joe Schmidt had hoped to have Kearney fit again for Scotland's visit to Dublin, as Ireland seek to ease a disappointing campaign with a second victory this weekend.

Schmidt had anticipated Kearney overcoming his injury when quizzed over the 29-year-old's fitness in the wake of the easy victory over Italy.

Ireland are not yet ready to give up on their other two injury concerns however, with Cian Healy still battling a hamstring strain and Eoin Reddan a calf problem.

Ireland entered the Six Nations as defending champions but are now battling to salvage pride and respect after a tough run of injuries and frustrating performances.

Robbie Henshaw, Andrew Trimble and Keith Earls all received stitches to nasty-looking cuts during the Italy win, but all three will continue training unhindered this week.

"Cian Healy and Eoin Reddan will continue their rehab today with the aim of being available to train tomorrow," read Ireland's statement.

"Robbie Henshaw received some stitches above the eye, Andrew Trimble got a couple of stitches on his nose and Keith Earls received some stitches in his lip."

Jamie Heaslip has backed his young Leinster team-mate Josh Van der Flier to forge a lasting Test career after seizing on his first Ireland call in this Six Nations.

Van der Flier started the season battling for openings at Leinster but will end the Six Nations as a foraging natural openside flanker of rich Test promise.

Heaslip believes Van der Flier has already justified his promotion in the wake of injury to Sean O'Brien, and tipped the 22-year-old to cement his place in Ireland's squad.

"This year Josh has shown what he's about really, his work ethic, his skill, his relentlessness, just being a really good pro and going about his business," said Heaslip.

"He's grown in each game and it was typified in his performance against France. I thought he was one of the standout players.

"Nothing has surprised me with Josh. He is an unbelievably good pro.

"He goes about his work very quietly and he's a lovely guy off the field.

"But I'm always slagging him that he's going around with his notepad, taking notes all the time, he knows his job inside out.

"That's what we ask people to do when they come into this squad first, to fit in first and then perform.

"Fit into the system, the way we're playing, the moves, the calling system, and the guy hasn't missed a step.

"That's why he's here: he's asking tough questions of the coaches."

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