Saturday 25 November 2017

South Africa game plan for Kearney

Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Ireland are making arrangements with the Stormers in South Africa to get much-needed game time for Rob Kearney in July, ahead of the World Cup. And an extra game, against Connacht, has been slotted into the August schedule to facilitate other players who are struggling with long-term lay-offs.

Currently there are eight players, excluding Paul O'Connell who is fit but still short of match practice, who are injured or will have procedures carried out soon, and will need pitch time to get up to some sort of speed for the World Cup in September.

Kearney, however, is the only one who is being pointed south to get some action, having not played since picking up a knee injury last November.

"We're looking at the South African option for Rob and we've made contact with the Stormers there," Ireland manager Paul McNaughton confirmed last week. "We're waiting for sign-off from our medics in the next few days to see what weeks he can start playing. He's been keeping as fit as he can without playing matches, gym fit, but he'll obviously need some preparation before he plays down there."

The list of wounded comprises Tony Buckley, who will have a shoulder procedure carried out in a few weeks; Tomás O'Leary will have an injection in his back soon after the Magners League final next weekend; Andrew Trimble and Paddy Wallace, both of whom have been out with fractured thumbs since mid-April, will be expected to report fit when the squad convenes in Maynooth on June 26 for its first camp; Stephen Ferris who is also expected to be playing in August; and Jerry Flannery who has been based in Dublin recently, rehabbing after surgery on his calf.

Geordan Murphy is another long-term casualty who it is hoped will be fit in August as well.

The Connacht game has been added to the Test list (Scotland, France home and away, and England) to give maximum opportunity to those who need it. The provinces will also be playing their standard warm-up games that month and the Ireland management will likely use those games to run-out those who need it.

Ireland Schedule

Aug 6: v Scotland (a)

Aug 13: v France (a)

Aug 19: v Connacht, UCD Bowl

Aug 20: v France (h)

Aug 27: v England (h)

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