O'Connell and Healy to face Springboks
Rugby:Declan Kidney received some positive news on the injury front today when it was revealed Paul O’Connell and Cian Healy are winning their fitness battles to play in the opening autumn international against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The forward pair were a doubt for the game against the Springboks due to their respective back and shoulder problems. But they took a full part in training today at Carton House and should be available to start the game.
With established internationals Brian O’Driscoll, Seán O’Brien, Stephen Ferris, Rob Kearney and Rory Best already ruled out, Kidney could ill-afford any further losses of senior players.
“Paul trained fully today and did everything in training - scrum, lineout and contact,” assistant coach Mark Tainton said.
“We’ll see what happens over the next 24 hours but we don’t envisage any reaction to what he did today. It’s looking good from his side.
“Cian did a full session today and there were no problems with his shoulder during a live scrummaging session. He showed full power.”
O’Connell is the leading candidate to lead the team in O’Driscoll’s absence, although Kidney has yet to confirm he is captain.
Leinster playmaker Jonathan Sexton has been touted as a possible alternative and Tainton is confident he would be able to shoulder the extra responsibility.
“A flyhalf’s role is to lead the team anyway. Goalkicking and punting are just a part of his job,” he said. “I wouldn’t see it being a burden to take on the captaincy as well.”
Ulster prop Declan Fitzpatrick is not training with the squad due to concussion.