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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
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No concern over Leavy despite flanker missing training with 'full body soreness'

The Leinster back row will train at tomorrow’s captain’s run as Ireland manage his workload.

DAN LEAVY IS expected to be fit to face the All Blacks on Saturday despite missing this morning’s squad session at Carton House with what Joe Schmidt reported as ‘full body soreness.’

The Leinster flanker, outstanding off the bench against the Pumas last weekend, has been named at openside in Schmidt’s starting XV for the clash against Steve Hansen’s side at the Aviva Stadium [KO 7pm, RTÉ 2/Channel 4]. 

Dan Leavy and Jordan Larmour Leavy didn't train with the rest of the squad this morning. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Despite being unable to train on Thursday morning, Leavy was picked ahead of Josh van der Flier and concerns over the 24-year-old’s fitness were allayed by Schmidt at this afternoon’s team announcement press conference.

“We had a few guys who needed to get through a couple of training sessions,” the head coach said, confirming he did not inform the players of who was in the matchday 23 until this morning.

“It’s never ideal, but even at the end of training we were still making some decisions for Saturday. We expect Dan to train fully tomorrow.

“With Dan he’s only really recently back playing after injury so we’re just trying to manage him. He trained very well on Tuesday, but he’s had a bit of soreness.

“We’re expecting he will be up running and ready [for Saturday]. He’s just been sore from the week before.

Nothing too specific, but he was stiff and sore. As a result he didn’t sleep overly well, which is another warning sign for us that if we push him too hard he would fall under that fatigue and not be better.

After replacing the luckless Seán O’Brien just before half-time against the Pumas, Leavy pressed his case for the number seven jersey with a typically aggressive and influential display, finding form and fitness at the right time after a disjointed start to the season because of injury. 

In replicating the sort of form which helped Ireland to a Grand Slam earlier this year, the former St Michael’s student left no doubt over the identity of Schmidt’s openside for this weekend.

The same can’t be said about other positions, though, with Schmidt and his assistants faced with a number of difficult selection conversations with players who missed out.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt during today's training session. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Iain Henderson has dropped down to the bench as Devin Toner steps in, Will Addison did nothing wrong last weekend but falls out of the equation and Tadhg Beirne must be wondering what he has to do to get a look in. 

Similarly, Luke McGrath was unable to dislodge Kieran Marmion from the nine jersey, but the Leinster scrum-half held off the challenge of Ulster’s John Cooney for a place on the bench.

Jordan Larmour, meanwhile, beat Andrew Conway and Addison to the final place in the squad, the 21-year-old’s attacking X-Factor setting him apart as the replacement back three option. 

“There were some tough decisions in there, there’s some very good players we’ve left out, some players who’ve played well in the first two games but unfortunately don’t get an opportunity,” Schmidt added.

“You can only name 23 players, so we felt right from the first game Rhys Ruddock led from the front and there were good performances from the likes of Jack Conan, Will Addison stepping in at the last-minute last week.

“So it’s not as uncomplicated as it may sound, but it is what it is.

“And those players have prepared themselves through the week, as have the others. So when we named the team at training earlier today I think everyone felt they were in with a chance, so there were some disappointed players.

“But they will be 100% behind the team.”


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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