McCarron opts out of Leinster contract to return to college


Ireland A Squad:ROSS McCARRON has decided to go back and complete a degree at college rather than see out the final year of his contract at Leinster. The 23-year-old has taken the decision to try to complete the final 12 months of his Arts (Economics and Sociology) degree at UCD after suffering what can only be described as a horrendous litany of injuries.

It started last summer while playing in the Churchill Cup match against the New Zealand Maoris when he broke his thumb just before half-time. He would subsequently pull a hamstring in pre-season training, tear it four weeks later and then having spent a further six weeks on the sidelines, damage the other hamstring when returning to competitive fare.

The tale of misfortune continued when he broke his jaw while playing an A interprovincial for Leinster against Connacht; there was also the small matter of breaking his nose twice during that period.

It is not the list of injuries but the logjam of backline talent at Leinster, augmented by the impending arrival of New Zealander Isa Nacewa that demanded McCarron address his rugby ambition.

The former Gonzaga schoolboy is a player of real quality, his injuries notwithstanding, having represented Ireland at Schools, Under-19, Under-21 and A level. Strong, quick, with good feet and reliable under the high ball, injury and selection denied him enough chances to affirm those qualities.

In March his agent was approached by Ulster and Connacht to try to secure his services but McCarron wanted to prove himself at Leinster. "I have another year to go on my contract and the easy thing would have been to be happy to be a squad player.

"There is plenty of talent in terms of backs at Leinster but I just didn't want to be a bit-part player. Things just weren't working out for me. I haven't turned my back completely on professional rugby but I decided that I wanted to finish my degree. I'll continue to play for Lansdowne."

Meanwhile, former Ireland scrumhalf David O'Mahony has been named as assistant coach to Allen Clarke for the Churchill Cup. London Irish secondrow Bob Casey will lead the Ireland touring squad for the tournament in the USA and Canada.

Neil Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon/Ulster), Robert Casey (London Irish, capt), Tom Court (Malone/Ulster), Sean Cronin (Shannon/Munster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), Denis Fogarty (Cork Constitution/Munster), Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Trevor Hogan (Shannon/Leinster), Darragh Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster), Johnny O'Connor (Corinthians/Connacht), David Pollock (Dungannon/Ulster), Michael Ross (Harlequins), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Roger Wilson (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Gary Brown (Blackrock /Leinster), Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Keith Earls (Garryowen/Munster), Ian Humphreys (Leicester), Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution/Munster), Kieran Lewis (Garryowen/Munster), Keith Matthews (Buccaneers/Connacht), Mark McCrea (Malone/Ulster), Frank Murphy (Leicester), Johne Murphy (Leicester), Fergus McFadden (UCD/Leinster), Tomás O'Leary (Dolphin/Munster), Johnny Sexton (St Mary's /Leinster).

Not considered: Declan Fitzpatrick (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Niall Ronan (Shannon/Munster) Barry Murphy (UL Bohemians/Munster).

Tour Management:

Allen Clarke (Coach), Dave O'Mahony (Assistant Coach), John McKibbin (Team Manager), George Murray (Video Analysis), Ray Egan (Fitness Adviser), Dr Éanna Falvey (Doctor), James Allen (Physiotherapist), Johnny O'Hagan (Baggage Master).

Ireland Schedule:

Wednesday, June 11th: USA v Ireland A at Richardson Stadium, Kingston.

Saturday, June 14th: Ireland A v England Saxons at Fletchers Fields, Toronto.

Saturday, June 21st: Churchill Cup Finals Day at Toyota Park, Chicago.