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Ireland have not contacted Lancaster on defence role for Japan


Leinster’s Stuart Lancaster. Pic: Sportsfile

Leinster’s Stuart Lancaster. Pic: Sportsfile

Leinster’s Stuart Lancaster. Pic: Sportsfile

Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster has not had any contact from Joe Schmidt about taking up a temporary role for Ireland's Test matches against Japan in June.

Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell has already been seconded to British & Irish Lions duty in New Zealand.

This would appear to be a hand-in-glove fit for Lancaster, initially employed in that role at Leinster.

"This is the first I've heard about it. It has never even crossed my mind, if I'm honest," he said.

"You can't really control speculation of being linked to certain things.

"I'm certainly not going out there, promoting myself, I can assure you.

"I've enough going on here. We've had two European games, followed by Munster, Ulster and Zebre, and another two European games.

"I'll deal with what's put in front of me on a day-to-day basis rather than start planning ahead to what's going to happen in June."

Head coach Leo Cullen and Lancaster welcomed the Ireland internationals back from a mini-camp yesterday. They will have to mix and match their selections against Munster and Ulster.

Full-back Rob Kearney's ankle injury will keep him away from Munster on St Stephen's Day.

His brother Dave will be out for six weeks after surgery on his ankle last Monday.

Lancaster was quick to praise the impact of Ross Byrne in his first Champions Cup start last Saturday.

"I thought his performance at the weekend was the best he's played," he said.

"I could see him building during the week. I thought he trained very well.

"He had very good control of the game plan, clarity in his mind about the way he was going to execute it.

"He led the team well which is difficult for a young player and he executed."

Meanwhile, Connacht hooker Tom McCartney has signed a three-year deal to stay at Connacht.

This move nails McCartney's green colours to the mast because he will qualify to play for Ireland in October next year.

The 31 year-old will seriously strengthen Joe Schmidt's options in the middle of the front row.

"I'm delighted to sign on for another three years with Connacht Rugby," said the man from Auckland.

"I came here excited to be able to help the province achieve its vision of success.

"I believe we have the structures in place to see us continue to go from strength to strength."