Saturday 21 September 2019

Leavy injury fears linger as Hansen targets Ireland's leaders


Dan Leavy during Ireland Rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Dan Leavy during Ireland Rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Joe Schmidt is hopeful Dan Leavy can take a full part in this morning's Captain's Run after naming the flanker in the team to face New Zealand despite him sitting out training at Carton House yesterday.

His inclusion is one of four expected changes from the win over Argentina last weekend as Devin Toner, Rob Kearney and Garry Ringrose come in for Iain Henderson, Jordan Larmour and Will Addison.

Schmidt was upbeat on Leavy's prospects of playing, but kept the details on the reason for his absence from training vague.

"We're just trying to manage him," he said. "He trained very well on Tuesday, but he's had a bit of soreness. We're expecting he will be up running and ready. He's just been sore from the week before - full-body soreness. Nothing too specific, but he was stiff and sore.

"As a result he didn't sleep overly well, which is another warning sign for us that if we push him too hard he would fall under that fatigue and not be better."

Josh van der Flier would be the obvious choice if Leavy fails to shake off his issue, with Rhys Ruddock the next in line for the bench.

After bringing Ryan Crotty in for the injured Sonny Bill Williams in an otherwise unchanged team, All Black coach Steve Hansen said his team would not target the relatively inexperienced Kieran Marmion.

Rather, he'd prefer his team to focus on Ireland's leading lights.

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"If you're going to target anyone you want to target the big boys, because they're the boys that lead you around the park," he said.

"So, if you can put those kind of guys in the red, then your team struggles more. We'll just try and go out and play our own game. We won't look to target anybody."

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