Tuesday 16 January 2018

Healy fit to play as Ireland hint at plan to use entire squad in pool

'The return of Healy in particular is a major boost to Ireland’s prospects'
'The return of Healy in particular is a major boost to Ireland’s prospects'
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland manager Mick Kearney believes Joe Schmidt will use all 31 of his players during the pool stages of the World Cup in order to avoid "discord" among the squad.

The coach has a full panel to choose from as he prepares to pick his team to face Canada, with Cian Healy, Conor Murray and Rob Kearney all cleared to play at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The return of Healy in particular is a major boost to Ireland's prospects, with the prop overcoming what Kearney described as "dark days" when he made a slower than expected recovery from neck surgery during the summer.

With only two recognised looseheads in the squad, the Clontarf native can expect to be involved against the North Americans, with Schmidt expected to name a strong side on Thursday for the campaign opener.

Protocols

The Ireland management say Rob Kearney has recovered from his injured knee, while Murray has come through the concussion protocols successfully after injuring his head against England.

The big decisions facing the coach include whether in-form second-row Iain Henderson gets the nod over Devin Toner, while the make up of his back-three will be closely watched.

However, Mick Kearney reckons Schmidt will rotate his squad over the coming weeks as Ireland face Romania and Italy before their final game against France.

"I would, yeah," he said when asked if he expected all 31 players to get an opportunity. "To bring a 31-man squad and not give them an opportunity in the pool stages wouldn't be the best thing for the squad.

"If you look back to 2007 there were a number of players who didn't play at all. That leads to a certain amount of discord maybe among the group.

"It is important to use the squad during the group stages."

Irish Independent

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