Jennings not giving up on New Zealand dream
SHANE Jennings has admitted that he feared for his World Cup place after breaking his arm last month, but after undergoing surgery, the Leinster flanker now plans to fight for his spot.
The open-side fractured the radius bone in his right arm in a collision with Wian du Preez in the Magners League final against Munster and initially thought that his action in the summer warm-ups would be curtailed as a result.
The 29-year-old's last appearance for Ireland came at the end of last year's tour in Australia and having missed out on the November internationals and the Six Nations, he needs time in camp and games to impress Declan Kidney.
Ireland play Scotland, France twice and England during August and Jennings reckons he will be out of the cast and fighting fit by then.
"It could have been a whole lot worse," he admitted. "The time scale could have been an awful lot worse, so I'm in a good place when it comes to pre-season. For the initial week or two, I'll be slowly introduced, but after that, I'll be able to compete with everybody else for places.
"I was just up at the surgeon this morning and he sounded fairly positive. The operation went well and it seems to be settling down. He just put on a new cast and I'll be in this for three weeks, and, hopefully, they'll assess it then and I'll be good to go.
"We're in camp on June 26. We'll start the rehab then and we have a plan in place, so yeah, it shouldn't be too bad."
The former Leicester man is off on holidays tomorrow, but you suspect the World Cup won't be far from his and other contenders' minds when they're sitting in the sun.
While he recognised the difficulty of trying to gain one of the back-row spots, he said there is nothing he can do but work hard and try and catch Kidney's eye.
His performances in the second half of the Heineken Cup final are bound to have done that and, as a natural open-side, he has some strings to his bow that no other contenders possess.
"I hope it is (an advantage)," he said. "Everybody knows the competition around at international and provincial level.
"It makes for a pretty tough few weeks, but I think it is something I certainly am looking forward to and I'm sure the other boys are looking forward to as well.
"If you get your own shop in order, and you prepare yourself as best as possible and you are making sure you are doing your job the right way, then you are giving yourself as good a chance as anybody."
Meanwhile, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar is hoping to resurrect the stalled Sports Campus Ireland programme, although he admitted that there are very little Government funds to do so.
The minister wants to move more sports' governing bodies to Abbotstown and he is in negotiations with the various associations about enhancing training facilities in west Dublin.
"They would contribute a good chunk of the costs and we would make some of the costs available too," Varadkar said. "(Talks) have been very detailed with the GAA because the GAA is in a very strong position financially.
"We have not had too many discussions with the IRFU as of yet because they are paying off the debt (on the Aviva Stadium).
"We have had some discussions with the FAI that we might be able to do something on a partnership. They have already shown a real commitment to the Sports Campus by moving out there."