Ross faces fitness race for Ireland's summer tour
WITH Stephen Ferris ruled out over the weekend, Mike Ross is the latest injury concern for Ireland ahead of their summer tour to New Zealand.
The Leinster tight-head went for a scan last night on the hamstring injury that forced him out of yesterday's Pro12 final defeat to the Ospreys and is believed to have suffered a minor tear but it is hoped that will be recovered for the first of three Tests against the All Blacks on June 9.
With Tom Court unable to travel due to a fractured thumb, Ulster's uncapped tight-head Declan Fitzpatrick, dropped for the Heineken Cup final for John Afoa, would be next in line if Ross were ruled out.
Ferris was pulled from the tour on Saturday due to a calf injury sustained in that Twickenham final with Leinster's Kevin McLaughlin called up in his place, while Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy are recovering from knee and quad injuries respectively that forced them out of yesterday's decider.
Ireland face the Barbarians in Gloucester tomorrow night and will confirm who will fill the positions left open in the 29-man party when the squad was announced last Monday.
Paul O'Connell, Brett Wilkinson, Chris Henry and Isaac Boss are the players scheduled to come in although O'Connell and Boss have been sidelined for several weeks.
New Zealand have called up Hosea Gear to their squad to face Ireland following injuries to wingers Corey Jane and Richard Kahui, as well as Hika Elliot, who joins Keven Mealamu (rated doubtful for the June 9 Test) and Andrew Hore as one of three hookers in Steve Hansen's squad.
Meanwhile, it is expected that an Italian team, based in Parma, will be announced this week as the replacement franchise for Aironi, who said they would not be able to compete in the Heineken Cup and Pro12 next season due to financial reasons.