Munster prop Roman Salanoa has been called up to Ireland’s Six Nations squad as cover for the injured Tadhg Furlong.
The 25-year-old Hawai’ian was part of the Emerging Ireland tour of South Africa last year and is highly regarded by the Irish management after becoming a central figure for his province this season.
Furlong’s calf injury has not cleared up in time for Saturday’s opening fixture against Wales, meaning Finlay Bealham starts at tighthead with Tom O’Toole on the bench.
Salanoa was not part of the squad that trained in Portugal in preparation for the tournament, but it is understood he will link up with the wider group who arrive in Cardiff this evening.
The former USA U-20 international was recruited by Leinster in 2017 and qualifies to play for Ireland under World Rugby's now defunct three-year residency rule.
He played three times for the eastern province before moving to Munster in 2020. His first two seasons were affected by injury, but he’s had a big role under Graham Rowntree this season and played in all four of their Heineken Champions Cup fixtures.
He’ll train with Ireland at their Captain’s Run at the Principality Stadium tomorrow and could be part of the wider group on matchday, providing cover in the case of injury.
Cian Healy and Andrew Porter’s capacity to switch from loosehead would also be attractive options in that scenario.