Ireland look towards Australia as Leinster crop hope to bring winning momentum

Leinster hooker Sean Cronin is excited to get back into international camp for the next month.

SEAN CRONIN AND his Leinster team-mates finished their provincial campaign in style by securing a historic double on Saturday in Dublin, but this rugby season is not finished just yet.

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland will gather tomorrow in Carton House to begin preparations for their trip to Australia this weekend ahead of a three-Test series next month.

Ireland’s  Keith Earls Conor Murray Peter O’Mahony Sean Cronin and Rory Best after the match Ireland's last game was the Grand Slam win in England. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The clashes in Brisbane [9 June], Melbourne [16 June] and Sydney [23 June] provide Ireland with the chance to conclude a remarkable campaign for Irish rugby on another high.

The last time Ireland won a series in Australia was 1979, when Ollie Campbell took over at out-half in place of Tony Ward and shone in the two victories in Brisbane and Sydney.

Schmidt’s men come into this summer’s tour against Michael Cheika’s Wallabies hoping to continue their momentum from the Grand Slam success in March and, even after a long season, Cronin is relishing the opportunity.

“It’s very exciting,” said the Leinster hooker.

“It’s a tremendous group of guys working under Joe and I’m sure he’ll have us back down to earth when we get together on Wednesday.

“Joe has his own way of doing stuff as well, so we’ll have to get up to speed with that and put this [Leinster's success] to bed pretty quick.

“I’m looking forward to the three great cities we’re going to. I think it’s the ’70s since we’ve had a win there so it’s going to be a huge tour.”

Schmidt will be hopeful that the likes of Cronin, Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose, James Ryan, Dan Leavy and others will bring their recent Leinster form straight back into the Ireland mix, just as the crossover has worked in the opposite way in recent times.

Many of Schmidt’s players brought energy and confidence back into the Leinster camp at the right time after their Grand Slam, boosting what proved to be an incredible run-in to the province’s season.

“The huge success we had with the Grand Slam, lads came back on a high,” said Cronin.

Sean Cronin and Jamie George Cronin has been in superb form for Leinster. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“We have got a super crop of young guys who tasted a bit of success there and they’ve led from the front [at Leinster] as well since they’ve come back and added so much value.

“It’s across the board, it’s the older guys as well, and I throw myself into that category.

“It probably won’t really process for a lot of guys for the next few days, what they’ve achieved this season.”

Of course, this 32-man Ireland squad is not made up solely of Leinster players.

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While the eastern province played right up until last weekend, Schmidt’s six-man Munster contingent will have had a three-week break from games by the time the first Test rolls around.

The five-man Ulster group will be in a similar boat, but the Connacht trio’s last provincial game will have been six weeks before.

The hope, of course, is that those mini-breaks will allow those players to hit this Test series free of niggles and hungry to make more history.

“A lot of those lads will come in outside of Leinster thirsty for more success as well off the back of the Grand Slam,” said Cronin, “and it will be a good mix.

“Obviously, we’re going to come in and try and add value, like we always do, and add a bit of success there.

“It will be a good group and I’m looking forward to getting back in.”

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Murray Kinsella

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