ROB KEARNEY TOOK a full part in Ireland’s squad training session at Carton House this morning, with his rib injury healing well.
The fullback suffered the rib cartilage injury late on in Saturday’s defeat to Australia in Dublin, and there had been doubts over his involvement this weekend against the All Blacks. However, Ireland forwards coach John Plumtree says the outlook is good for Kearney.
“He trained alright today. I’m not sure how he’s feeling afterwards, but he took part full in the session today, which was good. I’m sure he’ll be alright.”
It’s much-needed positive news for head coach Joe Schmidt, who needs his most experienced players involved on Sunday. Kearney is one of a handful of recent Lions available to the Kiwi, and the 27-year-old will be relishing the opportunity show his best form against a highly-rated All Blacks back three.
Less positively, Brian O’Driscoll and Jonny Sexton both sat out today’s training session with calf and hamstring problems respectively. Plumtree says neither player is being ruled out, stressing the importance of the extra recovery day Ireland have this week.
Brian hasn’t trained, Jonny Sexton hasn’t trained. Just those two players, but everyone else is good.”
“It’s hard to say [if they'll be available]. The nice thing is that we’ve got a long turnaround this week. It’s only Wednesday, so they’ve got a day off tomorrow, then come in Friday. We’ve got that extra day which is great, so hopefully the boys, by the time they come in Friday, will be feeling a lot better.”
The prospect of Sexton being involved against the All Blacks seemed non-existent when he pulled up just before half time against Australia, with his body language suggesting a serious tear in the hamstring. There is also an advantage for Ireland in not allowing the All Blacks to be aware of who will be lining out in the number 10 shirt until the latest possible moment.
Still, Schmidt will be hoping that both star men will be available for his what is his toughest international coaching assignment yet.