Tuesday 23 January 2018

Healy, Ross ready for Ireland recall - Cullen

Cardiff Blues 13 Leinster 14

Cardiff's Rhys Patchell has a late drop goal attempt which was subsequently blocked down. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile.
Cardiff's Rhys Patchell has a late drop goal attempt which was subsequently blocked down. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile.
Leinster's Isa Necewa is tackled by Cardiff's Alex Cuthbert, Cardiff during the match at Cardiff Arms Park. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile.
Leinster's Isa Nacewa runs in to score his sides first try of the match Cardiff. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Leinster's Zane Kirchner is tackled by Cardiff's Manoa Vosawi, left, and Ellis Jenkins Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Leo Cullen has backed Cian Healy and Mike Ross to make a seamless return for Ireland if they are recalled for Saturday's Six Nations clash against England.

Joe Schmidt is likely to take far more from this performance than Leinster counterpart Cullen after another successful appearance for the two Ireland props.

Healy played until 13 minutes from time having been part of a Leinster scrum that dominated their hosts, by which time Ross had also taken the field, as replacement for Tadhg Furlong.

It was a workmanlike shift in defence for both amid torrential rain and even more so when Jordi Murphy's yellow card left the Leinster pack down a man for the frantic last eight minutes.

Neither prop showed any ill-effects from their hamstring or knee injuries that have stopped them taking any part of the Six Nations thus far.

And given the modest displays of Nathan White and Jack McGrath, particularly at the scrum which is now perceived as a potential weakness among Ireland's opponents, a recall for Twickenham looks on the cards for the experienced front-rows, who share 112 caps.

Cullen said: "They were both in and out of camp this week but it was great to get them back.

"With Cian it was good to get him another 65 minutes and with Tadhg Furlong and Mike Ross, it was great to give them almost 40 minutes each.

"Cian has missed a few periods with injuries so it's just trying to get a clean run.

"If he manages to stay clear from injury for the rest of the season, he'll get a good run of games and that will help his form.

"He's a quality player and such a huge part of Leinster's success in the past eight or nine years.

"He is certainly chomping at the bit to get back for Ireland and we would be delighted if he was involved."

Would Twickenham and the ferocity of an Anglo-Irish clash be too soon after just 127 minutes of rugby since shortly after Christmas?

Cullen replied: "Cian has played plenty, he was involved with Ireland for the World Cup, same as Mike, and the two of them have a wealth of experience."

It was not an enjoyable afternoon for many of the Ireland contingent, though hookers Sean Cronin and Richard Strauss could be forgiven for wayward throwing amid driving rain and near gale-force winds whipping across the Arms Park.


Neither Eoin Reddan nor Ian Madigan, who kicked nine points, managed to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, while Fergus McFadden fumbled the game's best scoring chance and was then shown a yellow card.

With the forwards going nowhere, McFadden latched onto Madigan's cross-field kick only to lose possession over the line. Barely a minute later, the Ireland wing was binned for a reckless high challenge on Lloyd Williams as Cardiff threatened to break clear.

Leinster failed to capitalise on their scrum or the wind in the first half, though Madigan kicked them 9-6 ahead early in the second half.

Jack Conan marked his return after three months out with an ankle injury with the opportunist break and pass to hand Isa Nacewa his seventh try of the season.

But it was backs against the wall for 14-man Leinster after Josh Navidi's try set up a tense climax.

Cullen said: "We're disappointed with two cards because we back our defence which has conceded the fewest tries in the league.

"But we will take the win and move on."

Cardiff Blues - R Patchell; A Cuthbert, C Allen (T James 47), R Lee-Lo, B Scully; G Anscombe (D Fish, 53), L Williams (T Williams 70); T Davies (B Thyer 50), K Dacey (M Rees 50), S Ma'afu (T Filise 50), J Hoeata (M Cook 70), J Down, J Turnbull, M Vosawai, E Jenkins (J Navidi 63).

Leinster - Z Kirchner; F McFadden, G Ringrose, B Te'o, I Nacewa (capt); I Madigan, E Reddan; C Healy (P Dooley 67) , S Cronin (R Strauss 44), T Furlong (M Ross 44), M Kearney (T Denton 53), H Triggs, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Conan.

Ref - P Fitzgibbon (IRFU)

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