Ex Leinster player Ian McKinley hopes to play again in Ireland if IRFU goggles trial goes ahead
Ian McKinley's hopes of returning to play in Ireland have received a boost after the Irish Rugby Football Union announced it has applied to take part in an ongoing trial regarding protective goggles.
Ireland Under-20 international McKinley lost the sight in one eye following a freak accident during a domestic game five years ago, and then retired.
But he returned to action in 2014 and is currently playing for Italian Guinness PRO12 side Zebre, wearing Raleri protective goggles that he worked on during the design process.
World Rugby's current trial of goggles has more than 20 global rugby unions participating in it, and the IRFU has confirmed an application that if accepted, would enable McKinley to wear his protective gear on Irish soil.
"The Irish Rugby Football Union today announced its intention to register to participate in the ongoing World Rugby Raleri goggles trial," the IRFU said, in a statement.
"The IRFU medical committee made the recommendation following a thorough review of World Rugby trial data and updated advice given by independent medical experts. Some of the initial concerns that had been raised have been addressed by design changes in the goggles.
"The current restriction on goggles remains in place until such time as the IRFU has been confirmed as a trial participant by World Rugby. The IRFU hopes that this will be completed early in the new year.
"If the IRFU is accepted on to the trial, those seeking to wear goggles on the field must then apply to World Rugby to participate in the trial and purchase the Raleri goggles directly from the Italian manufacturer, in accordance with the terms of the trial. No other eyewear will be permitted."
The trial is due to be completed in late 2016, with players only able to wear the goggles on medical grounds and if their relevant Union is a trial participant.
It is thought that more than 500 players throughout world rugby currently use the Raleri goggles.