Gavin Duffy will link up with the rish squad on Wednesday. ©INPHO/James Crombie
Going south

Here comes the cavalry: Duffy in the air as Earls' tour hangs in the balance

The Connacht full-back is jetting to Christchurch while Paddy McAllister and Tony Buckley are keeping their phones charged and ready.

CONNACHT FULL-BACK GAVIN DUFFY is en-route to Christchurch in New Zealand ahead of Ireland’s second Test against the All-Blacks.

The shoulder injury that ruled Keith Earls out of the upcoming clash against New Zealand has been deemed serious enough to get Duffy airborne as a fully-fledged squad member for the remaining Tests.

Earls played at inside centre in the first Test defeat to the All Blacks at Eden Park but left the game with five minutes remaining and was carrying a shoulder that looked dislocated.

Ireland team manager Mick Kearney allayed such fears but did confirm a decision on Earl’s tour future would be clear by the end of the week. He said:

Keith has a tear of one of his pectoral muscles. It showed up during an MRI scan yesterday.

“He is unavailable for the game at the weekend and his progress will be monitored over the coming days.”

Full-back cover

Earls has played all over the backline, at provincial and international level, this season.

He scored five tries from the left wing at the World Cup, featured at centre, wing and full-back for Munster and played at 13, outside Gordon D’Arcy in Ireland’s Six Nations campaign.

As pointed out on 28 May, after the Ireland squad was named, Earls ‘may be a useful outside centre and an exceptionally talented winger but he is hardly the cover that Ireland supporters would hope for should injury or fatigue befall Kearney’.

As it turns out, the Munster man has succumbed to injury first.

When asked if Duffy should have been included in the initial squad, Kearney told

He was under consideration (for a full call-up) and he was on the stand-by list but we felt that Keith has played a fair bit of rugby at full-back so we were adequately covered there.

The man considered as adequate cover will be, no doubt, covered more than adequately by Duffy should be make the match-day 22.

The Connacht captain has enjoyed a fine season with his province as was outstanding in Heineken Cup games against Gloucester and Harlequins (home and away).

Further injury woes

Kearney added that Cian Healy, another shoulder injury victim, is rated as 50/50 for the second Test will Declan Fitzpatrick is ‘a concern but should be ok’.

Mike Ross is responding well to treatment on his hamstring and ‘ran well’ at the squad’s gym session on Monday morning.

Back-up for Healy, should he not recover to finish out the series, will be either Paddy McAllister of Ulster or Tony Buckley, who played with Sale Sharks last season.

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