Wednesday 12 December 2018

Sean Cronin a late concern for Joe Schmidt after sitting out captain's run due to intense session on Thursday

Sean Cronin during Ireland rugby squad training at North Sydney Oval in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Sean Cronin during Ireland rugby squad training at North Sydney Oval in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor in Sydney

Sean Cronin has emerged as a doubt for Ireland’s series decider against Australia after sitting out the Captain’s Run at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium.

The hooker was restored to Joe Schmidt’s starting XV for the final game of the season after missing out on selection for last week’s win in Melbourne.

Ireland went through a light work-out at the Test venue, but the Limerick native was not part of the squad on the pitch.

An IRFU spokesman said the player was just keeping off his feet after an intense session on Thursday, but it is unusual for a starting player to sit out the eve of match training.

Munster’s Niall Scannell is the reserve hooker for the Test and would likely come into the team if Cronin’s issue proves more serious, while Rob Herring missed out on selection.

According to the IRFU, the rest of the match-day 23 trained ahead of tomorrow’s decisive clash.

Ireland levelled the series with their 26-21 win at AAMI Park last weekend and now face an all-or-nothing finale against the Wallabies.

Despite that win, captain Peter O’Mahony is targeting defensive improvements after being out-scored five tries to two in the 160 minutes to date despite Ireland dominating possession in last week’s game.

“I think we have to talk about it. One of their biggest assets is their ability to play rugby and to strike wide,” he said.

“And 30-35pc possession and three tries is a very impressive stat. We know how dangerous they are with the ball.

“As a result I think our defence needs to step up a notch.”

Along with Jack McGrath, the skipper is making his 50th appearance for his country.

“It's a hard thing to do when you're in a series like this,” he said when asked to reflect on the achievement.

“It's three of the biggest games of your life coming in three consecutive weeks - it's hard to sit back and think about it.

“That's not to say I'm taking it for granted, it was a dream to get my first cap and to think I'd be sitting here getting 50 is not something I could have comprehended on that day.

“It's certainly a huge honour.

“Jack’s set-piece work is second to none in the world, the energy and drive he brings around the park is incredible, he's incredibly fit for a big, big man and he's an incredible character.

“That's something that's a big part of our group, he leads from the front.”

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