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Ireland's prop crisis deepens as Bealham is ruled out of today's test with COVID

Former Leinster player Michael Bent has answered an SOS call to help the team warm-up after replacement prop Ed Byrne’s flight to New Zealand was delayed.

Finlay Bealham has been ruled out with Covid.
Finlay Bealham has been ruled out with Covid.

FINLAY BEALHAM HAS had to withdraw from the Ireland match-day squad for today’s series opener against New Zealand. He tested positive for COVID this morning.

In his place, Tom O’Toole has been promoted to the bench, despite playing 80 minutes on Wednesday against the Maori All Blacks. Accordingly, Cian Healy, who had been named as a tighthead cover, has been switched to cover loosehead.

The prop issue has become a problem on this tour with Jeremy Loughman ruled out of today’s game with concussion, Healy forced off during Wednesday’s defeat to the Maori All Blacks with a lower limb injury which looked like ending his tour before he made a remarkable recovery, while Ed Byrne – who was called into the squad at the last minute – has been unable to make it to New Zealand in time for today’s test after his flight was delayed.

It means Michael Bent – who moved back to New Zealand after leaving Leinster last year – has been called up in an emergency measure to do the warm-up as one of the additional players. Bent has been playing for Taranaki.

There is also speculation that Stuart McCloskey may be called out to replace James Hume, who also picked up an injury on Wednesday against the Maori All Blacks.

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Garry Doyle  / reports from Auckland

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