Thursday 22 August 2019

Cronin expected to win fitness battle for Sarries showdown

Seán Cronin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Seán Cronin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Leinster are hopeful of fielding an unchanged side in the Champions Cup final against Saracens with Sean Cronin expected to overcome the calf injury he suffered in the semi-final against Toulouse in time to take his place as hooker.

With Jamison Gibson-Park still struggling with a hamstring problem, James Lowe and Scott Fardy look set to be retained with fit-again Rhys Ruddock likely to be named on the bench after recovering from his concussion. Josh van der Flier could return to face Munster next week.

Cronin will be managed this week having not trained since the semi-final three weeks ago, but Stuart Lancaster is optimistic about his chances.

"We're optimistic," he said.

"We haven't trained yet, we're going to do units today and then tomorrow he'll take part in that and if it all goes well then he should be able to train properly on Thursday.

"Obviously we'll wait for him... it's not like he's not training today or tomorrow. He's doing units (forwards) today, taking part tomorrow, so we're definitely confident in him. We wouldn't do it if we weren't.

"There's nothing wrong with Rhys so he is available for selection. He has gone through the return to play protocols and he'll be back at training this afternoon.

"He (Gibson-Park) had a hamstring in the Glasgow game. He hasn't trained with us yet but still probably not planned to train until later this week. It's probably tight for this weekend but it's a bonus for him coming back with a semi-final in mind after this weekend, plus the other bonus of Josh van der Flier being back, potentially available to train this week with a view to play next week as well.

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

"That's the bonus. He's done brilliantly to get back from that groin injury and it's a real boost for the squad."

Meanwhile, Lancaster is not concerned about the shortened pitch at St James' Park.

"I don't think it's tight in terms of width. In terms of length, any football pitch you tend to find the dead-ball areas are definitely shorter," he said.

"It's the width I get more concerned about. I prefer, Leinster prefer to play on as big a pitch as we can, so the width is fine, it will be slightly short at either end because of the nature of a football pitch."

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport