Saturday 16 December 2017

Kidney boost as O'Gara set to return from injury in time for Springboks

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

RONAN O'GARA looks set to be fit in time for Ireland's first autumn international despite suffering a mid-level tear of his hamstring.

The 35-year-old was forced off during Munster's Heineken Cup defeat at the hands of Racing Metro in Paris and will miss this weekend's game against Edinburgh as a result of the injury.

But the Corkman looks set to give Declan Kidney a boost by recovering in time for the visit of South Africa to the Aviva Stadium on November 10.

The experienced out-half's absence for Sunday's clash means Ian Keatley -- the former Connacht player who started last weekend's game at full-back -- will now wear the No 10 jersey against Edinburgh, with Ireland U-20 out-half JJ Hanrahan likely to be on the bench for what would be his first taste of European rugby.

It is a rapid rise up the ranks for Hanrahan, the Castleisland youngster who only made his Celtic League debut last month following on from his heroics with Ireland at this summer's U-20 World Cup in South Africa.

Wian du Preez is expected to be back for the must-win match against last year's semi-finalists and faces a battle for the loosehead spot with rising star Dave Kilcoyne. Conor Murray looks set to hold on to the scrum-half jersey despite his late error that handed Metro victory.

Meanwhile, Simon Easterby has said that Scarlets will target Brian O'Driscoll in Saturday's Pool 5 clash with Leinster.

The Ireland captain's former international team-mate, who now coaches the Welsh region, believes that the outside centre remains the man to stop in the European champions' back line.

"Brian is very important to Leinster. He's not getting any younger but certainly not getting any poorer in terms of his attitude and the way he plays the game," said Easterby.

Irish Independent

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