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Smal mercies: Ireland forwards coach cleared for travel

The South African will take his place alongside Declan Kidney on plane to New Zealand.

Gert Smal, Ireland forwards coach, has been passed fit to travel to New Zealand with the rest of the squad.
Gert Smal, Ireland forwards coach, has been passed fit to travel to New Zealand with the rest of the squad.
Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

THE IRISH RUGBY squad has been boosted by the news that assistant coach Gert Smal has been cleared to travel to New Zealand.

Smal, who missed a number of games during Ireland’s Six Nations campaign this year with an eye condition, will join Les Kiss and head coach Declan Kidney for the three match series against the All Blacks as well as a warm up game against Barbarians on May 29.

Smal told the IRFU’s website: “I’m looking forward to getting back to working with the players again and it was great to meet up with them last week at our squad get together for the first time since I had to take time off.

“It was a worrying time for my family when I was getting these symptoms affecting my eyesight, but it was clear that I was not going to be able to fully function and deliver the guidance the players needed. We needed to get to the bottom of what was going on and I was advised to take some rest, so it is at times like these that you reluctantly have to listen to the advice.”

The 50-year-old South African went on to praise the work done by Anthony Foley and Paul O’Connell in his absence.

“Anthony Foley did a superb job when he stepped in at such short notice as did Paul (O’Connell) and also Rory (Best) and Donnacha Ryan to give that little bit of leadership along with the other forwards. I’m feeling really good and fit at the moment and really excited about stepping back onto the training field, which is where you want to be as a coach, and looking forward to the tour to New Zealand.”

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Steven O'Rourke

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