Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne trains with Ireland ahead of Sydney decider as fears grow over Cian Healy
Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne trained with Ireland in Sydney this morning but the management say he is not part of the squad for Saturday's decider against Australia.
The IRFU explanation for the 29-year-old's surprise appearance at the North Sydney Oval was that he had been holidaying in nearby Thailand and had been brought to Australia for the experience of training.
His presence has fuelled fears that all is not well with Cian Healy, who was forced off with an injury in last weekend's win over the Wallabies. However, the Leinster prop was reported to have trained.
In Healy and Jack McGrath, Joe Schmidt only picked two out and out loosehead props for this tour but Andrew Porter and John Ryan have both experienced the position.
Joe Schmidt upbeat on Andrew Conway's (hip) chances of making next week, Dan Leavy (sternum) and Cian Healy (AC joint) still have a chance according to the coach— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) June 16, 2018
However, the 22-times capped Kilcoyne is a more experienced operator.
He was back-up to Healy in the two higher profile November internationals against South Africa and Argentina, but an untimely injury saw him ruled out of the opening games of the Six Nations as McGrath regained his place and he then missed out on selection for the tour squad.
Andrew Conway is a major doubt for Saturday's season finale having sat out training as he continues to recover from his hip pointer issue, while Dan Leavy is also in a race to prove his fitness after taking a limited part in training.
At a press conference held after training, Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby was asked if there had been any additions to the squad.
"Not to the official squad, no, no one's come in," he said.
Asked about Kilcoyne specifically, Easterby said: "He has been in for just today. He's not been made officially part of the squad.
"He was travelling."
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Although he is not part of the official squad, Easterby added that Kilcoyne could be selected if he was required at the weekend.
"He's not been officially named in the touring party, but he is available as he's Irish-qualified," he said.
Kilcoyne has not been the only guest player at training during this tour as it has emerged that Ulster-bound utility back Will Addison trained with the squad in Melbourne last week.
The Irish-qualified 25-year-old will move from Sale Sharks to the northern province this summer.
"In Will's case, he was over visiting family and he had an opportunity to come in and I guess when you've got someone who's moving to Ulster and is Irish-qualified and we had the opportunity to get him into the squad was good," Easterby said.
"For the players to meet him. It was quite a useful time for him and for us to see him in action."
Although no one has been ruled out of the Sydney clash, Easterby said Ireland would make changes to the team for the last game of their season.
"I think there will be some changes, whether that's the starting team or the bench," he said.
"There's always going to be an opportunity through a three-Test series, not only through injury but also through our need to try and get some exposure for some of the more inexperienced players on a tour like this.
"We're not that far out from a World Cup and this has been a great tour for us to get to know players who we're maybe not that familiar with and get some game time and training time with those players."
Meanwhile, the former flanker refuted Australia assistant coach Stephen Larkham's accusation that Ireland illegally blocked Israel Folau as he chased kicks during last week's win at AAMI Stadium.
"We've done nothing that we haven't done all season," he said.
"I just think on the weekend we just showed a lot more urgency to get back and support the player receiving the ball, making sure that once that player has caught the ball and landed, that we resource the ruck. I think that was an area that we came off second best in in Brisbane.
There will always be things that opposition and ourselves feel that we maybe didn't get the rub of the green on but we're just asking the players to work incredibly hard to support those guys who are receiving the kick.
"That's all we did on the weekend, we didn't feel like we didn't do anything that any other team in the world isn't doing."