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Healy 'flying' ahead of first Test as Byrne gets set to join Ireland squad

Ireland are in confident form ahead of tomorrow’s first Test against the All Blacks.

Ed Byrne is set to join the Ireland squad.
Ed Byrne is set to join the Ireland squad.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THERE WERE MAJOR fears that Cian Healy’s tour of New Zealand was over when he was helped off the pitch in agony on Wednesday night, but the Ireland prop is now set to completing a Lazarus-like recovery.

Healy has been named on the Ireland bench for tomorrow’s first Test against New Zealand at Eden Park despite his seemingly serious injury against the Maori All Blacks just days ago.

Garry Doyle, The42‘s man in New Zealand, delivered a positive report on Healy’s progress after taking in Ireland’s captain’s run in Auckland.

“The big thing today was the sight of Cian Healy,” said Garry on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly podcast.

“I thought his tour was over on Wednesday. But today, he was flying. Flying around the place.

“So I think he’ll be good for tomorrow.”

Loosehead prop Healy is due to wear Ireland’s number 18 shirt, with Connacht’s Finlay Bealham in the 17 jersey despite usually playing at tighthead. 

Ireland have also called up another loosehead prop to their squad in New Zealand, with Leinster’s Ed Byrne set to join the group.

cian-healy-during-the-captainss-run Healy pictured at Ireland's captain's run.

Jeremy Loughman is now undergoing the return-to-play protocols after showing symptoms of concussion in the Maori game. The Munster loosehead was surprisingly allowed to return to the pitch after passing a HIA carried out by the independent match day doctor. New Zealand Rugby have since revealed that “a gap in communications” was the cause for Loughman being allowed back on. 

With Loughman going through protocols – concussions now result in a 12-day stand-down period – Ireland have called on Leinster man Byrne to bolster their squad.

Byrne is the second player added to the initial 40-man Ireland squad, with Munster hooker Niall Scannell having already flown in at late notice to come off the bench against the Maori.

Centre James Hume is also now injured and could be replaced by Ulster team-mate Stuart McCloskey, while wing Mack Hansen has Covid, lock Iain Henderson’s tour is over, and hooker Rob Herring is carrying an injury.

“Farrell took out too small a squad here,” said Garry. “40 players for five matches wasn’t enough. The All Blacks have 36 in their squad for three matches and they’re at home so they can bring players in pretty easily.

“The Springboks have 43 players in their squad for the three matches against Wales. So I think Ireland made a mistake in that regard.”

Despite the injury challenges and a poor defeat to the Maori on Wednesday, Garry has been struck by the self-belief within Ireland’s group ahead of tomorrow’s first Test.

They will be looking to make history with a first-ever win against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil and have some conviction that they can do it. 

hugo-keenan-heads-the-ball-during-the-captainss-run Ireland had their captain's run today in Auckland.

“Unbelievable confidence, that’s the one thing that has struck me,” said Garry.

“The big theme of the week is that it’s Eden Park, New Zealand haven’t lost here since 1994 against France. Dan Sheehan made the point at today’s captain’s run that he wasn’t born the last time the All Blacks lost here.

“It’s the longest unbeaten run at a home ground in world rugby Test history. 

“But the way the players are talking is that they’re looking to flip the psychology in terms of this being another opportunity. Let’s go through Ireland’s recent history.

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“In 2000, they go to France and haven’t won there since 1972. O’Driscoll gets his hat-trick.

“In 2002, they play Australia on a piss-wet day in Lansdowne. Ronan O’Gara couldn’t miss a kick and Girvan Dempsey didn’t drop a catch. They beat the Aussies for the first time since 1979.

“In 2004, they hadn’t beaten England at Twickenham in the professional era but they do win there. They hadn’t won a Triple Crown since 1985 and they get that. 

“They hadn’t beaten South Africa since 1965 and they do that. In 2009, no Grand Slam since 1948 but they tick that box. 

“Go to 2016 and they hadn’t won away to South Africa, they do it. They had never beaten New Zealand but they do that in 2016. In 2018, they beat New Zealand at home for the first time and win a Grand Slam for just the third time. 

“Then they win a series in Australia for the first time since 1979. So these stats about Eden Park, they’re just kind of irrelevant to the likes of Dan Sheehan, Caelan Doris, and Josh van der Flier. They cannot be held accountable for the sins of the past. 

“They cannot be held accountable for the fact that no one has won here since 1994. Ireland have only played two or three times since ’94. It’s just a stat. From an Irish perspective, it’s about rubbing their hands and thinking, ‘Let’s take these guys on.’

“There is a serious confidence. Given the performance the other night against the Maori All Blacks, the mood at training yesterday and today has been so upbeat irrespective of the performance the other night.”

You can listen to today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly in full below or on your favourite podcast app: 


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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