Argentina tour dashed for Dave Kearney after suspected cruciate damage
DAVE KEARNEY looks set to be ruled out of Ireland's summer tour of Argentina after suffering suspected cruciate ligament damage in Leinster's win over Ulster on Saturday, writes Ruaidhri O'Connor.
The winger was an ever present during the Six Nations win and was one of his province's best performers in the Pro12 semi-final victory until he suffered the injury midway through the second half when his knee got caught in a bad position as he was tackled by Jared Payne.
If confirmed, a cruciate tear would rule the 24-year-old out for up to six months, which would be a real blow to the in-form player after his breakthrough season. Kearney's woes look set to open the door for one of Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo to re-establish their international claims.
Joe Schmidt is expected to name all three men in his 30-man squad this morning as the squad gather for a two-day intensive camp before the two-Test trip to South America.
Given the number of Leinster players in the Ireland set-up and the fact that Ireland fly to Argentina 24 hours after the province's Pro12 final against Glasgow Warriors, there will not be much of a window for Schmidt to work with his team ahead of the first Test in Resistencia on June 8.
Cian Healy is expected to be left out of the tour in order to rest his ankles, while Gordon D'Arcy and Sean O'Brien could also be given the summer off. Paul O'Connell will report for duty as captain.
Connacht's New Zealand-born prop Rodney Ah You looks set to get the nod, while Damien Varley is vying with Rob Herring for the third hooking position with Rory Best and Sean Cronin.
Leinster will assess suspected concussion victims Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Brian O'Driscoll in the coming days as they look to nurse the trio back to health in time for Saturday week's final which has been scheduled for a 6.15 kick-off at the RDS. Both Leinster and Glasgow will be allocated 50pc of the capacity initially, with tickets going on sale at 12.0 today.
Leinster will make their allocation available exclusively to their season- ticket holders until Friday, when they will put the remainder on general sale while Glasgow would not be expected to sell all of their tickets for their first final.
Meanwhile, with Milan set to hold on to the 2015 European final despite the change to the Rugby Champions Cup, the draw for the tournament looks set to be held in the second week in June.