Monday 27 January 2020

Connacht fight for McCarthy as Leinster come calling

John Fallon

Connacht have launched a drive to hold on to Irish lock Mike McCarthy after it emerged that Leinster are keen to sign him.

The Westerners' CEO Tom Sears said that the province have appealed to the IRFU to help them hold on to the 31-year-old lock, who was Man of the Match for Ireland against South Africa a couple of weeks ago and who picked up his sixth cap against Argentina last weekend.

Sears said it was vital that experienced players like McCarthy remained at the Sportsground.

"He is an intrinsic member of our squad who has come through our system here and we need to hold on to players like him," he said.

"It is the same with the young talent that we have developed. We need to bring them through and we need to have role models like Mike on board to help that process."

He said that they would be doing everything possible to ensure that McCarthy, who returned to the Sportsground for a second spell in 2007, remains a Connacht player.

"We have spoken to Mike and we have spoken to the IRFU and outlined how important it is that he stays with us and we are hopeful that he will remain a Connacht player."

Internationals to feature for Munster

Penney will integrate as many of the returning internationals as possible this weekend with the likes of Ronan O'Gara and Keith Earls set to start the game, although Peter O'Mahony will be held in reserve for the Saracens' game the following weekend.

James Coughlan is expected to return from the groin injury sustained against Ulster in September. He should be included in a back-row that will also feature South African CJ Stander. Stander made his Munster debut off the bench when he replaced Niall Ronan – who is out of contention this weekend – on Sunday night but this will be his first start for Munster.

Ronan was, thankfully, released from hospital with no long term effects from the incident for which Scarlets' lock Jake Ball has been cited. No date has been set for that hearing.

Munster have their Ireland internationals available for six out of the next eight weeks, but with just a week to prepare for the Saracens' match, Penney will name as strong a team as possible.

This will mean starts for international prop Dave Kilcoyne at loosehead and BJ Botha at tighthead. Donncha O'Callaghan and Donnacha Ryan are expected to be named in the second-row.

Irish Independent

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