Sunday 22 April 2018

Healy hoping for reprieve as Kearney calls for 'statement'

Cian Healy
Cian Healy

Ireland are hoping Cian Healy will be available to face France after the Six Nations confirmed his appeal will be heard tomorrow in Glasgow.

Healy was suspended for three weeks for stamping on England's Dan Cole, but is appealing on the grounds that his ban was effectively extended to four weeks as he was barred from playing for Leinster on February 16.

Tom Court stepped into the No 1 jersey in the absence of the Leinster prop for last Sunday's game against Scotland and is likely to deputise again against France if Healy fails in his appeal.

Ireland face a difficult task with winless France arriving at Lansdowne Road on Saturday week for a showdown between the tournament's two biggest flops.

There were tentative signs of a French revival in their defeat by England and it is a fixture that affects the Irish psyche like no other – they have triumphed just once in 13 meetings dating back to 2003.

"It's a massive two weeks ahead of us now. We need a big statement against France for ourselves, the jersey and our country. People deserve more," said full-back Rob Kearney.

"It doesn't help that France are zero from three. They will come over as a wounded animal, but we have to be more of one. We really need to fight hard and win that game. Losing to England and Scotland has put huge emphasis on this match. A lot is riding on it.

"We're all in this together. We must make a statement for Declan (Kidney), for ourselves and the country."

In Jonathan Sexton's absence, Ulster debutant Paddy Jackson showed promise against Scotland, but he missed eight points from the tee in a four-point defeat.

The 21-year-old was replaced for the last 15 minutes by Ronan O'Gara but Kearney was encouraged by what he saw.

"Genuinely I thought Paddy did really well. It's not easy for a guy making his debut to kick when he hasn't kicked a huge amount for his province," he said.

"It's a tough ask, goal-kicking in front of a full stadium on your debut. He will be disappointed with it, but there are a lot more positives to take out of his performance.

"You can't hope to win a game on kicks at goal. If we took all the chances we created but still missed our kicks, we would have won."

Irish Independent

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