Sport Rugby

Monday 19 March 2018

O'Connell and Kearney get the chance to prove fitness ahead of Six Nations Wales clash

Ruaidhri O’Connor

PAUL O’CONNELL and Rob Kearney sat out Ireland training today but both men will be given every chance to prove their fitness ahead of Saturday’s crunch Six Nations clash with Wales.

The captain was a late withdrawal from Sunday’s win over Scotland having gone down with a chest infection on the eve of the game, while Kearney took a blow to his calf as he gave the try-scoring pass to Andrew Trimble.

Cian Healy sat out the running part of training but scrimmaged with the rest of the pack and is likely to be available this week.

Eoin Reddan and Luke Fitzgerald have been ruled out of Saturday’s clash and both could make their return from injury for their provinces in the Pro12 games between the meetings with Wales and England.

No additional players have been added to the squad, with Isaac Boss remaining in camp.

“The squad re-assembled last night, we had a fairly light run out this morning. It was mainly organisational, with the challenge of a six-day turnaround  means rest and recovery has been the focus,” manager Mick Kearney said.

“A couple of guys didn’t train, Cian Healy stood out of running but did some scrimmaging, Rob Kearney got a kick on his calf, neither Eoin Reddan or Luke Fitzgerald available. Paul O’Connell observed training, but didn’t participate. Heavy chest infection, but we’re hopeful he will be available and he has been very vocal.”

Gordon D’Arcy trained fully after overcoming his stomach bug and is challenging Luke Marshall for the inside centre berth.

Wales earlier named their team for what is being billed as a grudge match after the summer’s controversy over Lions selection.

As expected, Jon Davies has not made it back from injury despite making an appearance for the Scarlets last weekend, but captain Sam Warburton is selected as one of three changes to Warren Gatland’s team as he replaces Justin Tipuric.

Giant lock Luke Charteris misses out with a hamstring injury so Andrew Coombs starts, while Gethin Jenkins comes in for Paul James.

Wales squad

Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, captain), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets)

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