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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018

Ireland hope to welcome O'Brien and Kearney back to full training next week

Rob Kearney is expected to join the squad on Tuesday, “at the latest Thursday”.

The Leinster men sat out training again today.
The Leinster men sat out training again today.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

OPENSIDE SEAN O’BRIEN and fullback Rob Kearney should be back in full Ireland training on Tuesday, Joe Schmidt said today.

The Leinster duo miss out on the Championship opener at home to Wales, but the head coach’s prognosis of their respective hamstring problems would appear to rule them back in the picture for the Valentine’s weekend trip to Paris.

“He’s just on the edge of being available to play,” Schmidt said of O’Brien.

“We’d have no concerns about next week, but we felt if the same thing happened as did against Italy (when O’Brien pulled out on the last drill of the warm-up before last year’s Six Nations opener),  it was quite unsettling, Tommy O’Donnell came in and did a great job in that match.

We said we’d give Sean the opportunity to train fully next week and hopefully there’s still a fair bit to play for.”

However, Schmidt also brought up the possibility that Kearney may have to wait an extra 48 hours to take a full part. And, given the Kiwi’s usual preference for players who are able to join in for every session, such an outcome would mean Kearney’s next opportunity would come away to England in three weeks’ time.

Kearney was hampered by a glute injury during the World Cup that allowed Simon Zebo to slot in as fullback against Italy and Romania then too. Subsequently, the 29-year-old tweaked his hamstring in action for his province at home to Scarlets, returning five weeks later for the defeat to Toulon.

“Rob should be fully fit at the latest by Thursday,” Schmidt said today.

“His is a very minor strain and he should be right to train by Tuesday, but certainly at the latest Thursday - there’s no tear, but there is discomfort which would signal it’s a risk to push him along.”

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Sean Farrell

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