Wednesday 23 January 2019

Hard work starts now as Ireland face three Six Nations cup finals, insists McFadden


Ireland's Fergus McFadden. Photo: PA
Ireland's Fergus McFadden. Photo: PA

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Having won their opening two games, Ireland face three "cup finals" to realise their Grand Slam dreams, according to Fergus McFadden.

The Leinster winger is expected to come back into the match-day 23 for next week's clash with Wales having made way for Jordan Larmour to make his debut against Italy.

The youngster is back with his province for today's meeting with the Scarlets, while McFadden was called into the Ireland training squad for the three-day camp in Athlone.

Ireland can end the Welsh title hopes with a home win, while keeping their prospects of a decider against Eddie Jones' England alive on March 17.

"What lies ahead, every game is like a cup final now," the 31-year-old said.

"Essentially the championship is only starting for us now.

"We've got our toughest games, probably, to go, with Wales, Scotland and leading to what could be a brilliant game on Paddy's Day for winner takes all against England.

"This Welsh team are going to be a big threat so we'll have to get a good week's training under our belts leading into that."

Having spent the week with Ireland, McFadden is not included in the Leinster squad to face the Scarlets in a pivotal PRO14 game at the RDS.

A re-match of last year's semi-final, the two sides are locked on 53 points at the top of Conference B and play again in two weeks' time.

Joey Carbery is a surprise omission from a team that includes Ireland quartet Sean Cronin, Jordi Murphy, Luke McGrath and Larmour.

Carbery trained with Ireland all week, but today's game seemed a perfect opportunity for the 22-year-old to get game-time having played just 51 minutes of rugby since November.

"We haven't seen much of Joey in the last few weeks so I'm not too sure, he's training well by the sounds of it," Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said.

"It's difficult, I don't know the full ins and outs of the shape of guys.

"They want to be able to train properly, they were in Irish camp and Joey is such a key part of what they are doing, swapping in between 10 and 15.

"He hasn't been immersed with us because of injury. We just need to get him here and that gives him an option."

Meanwhile, Gerbrandt Grobler makes his first senior start for Munster against Cardiff this evening as Jack O'Donoghue leads the side for the first time.

Irish Independent

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