Jack Conan in contention to play Scotland as all 33 Ireland players return to training

Rugby World Cup: Stuart McCloskey returns to camp after attending the birth of his second child

Leinster’s Jack Conan has recovered fully from injury and is in contention to play in Ireland’s final World Cup Pool B game against Scotland on Saturday week in Paris. The 31-year-old backrow has not played since injuring his foot in the warm-up win over Italy on August 5th.

Assistant coach Simon Easterby said Ireland had all 33 players available to them including Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey, who returned home during Ireland’s window this week for the birth of his second child.

“After a few days recovery, lads have come back in good spirits. Everybody was out there today, all 33, running around,” said Easterby. “Jack [Conan] is back ... training. It’s all good. Like anything, he has a bit of work to get through but he’s in a great place and we’re 33 men at the moment, fit and ready to go.

“Stu McCloskey’s become a dad for the second time as well which is great, so it’s all good news,” added Easterby. “He’s a happy man now.”


Easterby sees a number of areas where Ireland can improve on from the victory over South Africa.

“Our discipline at the end almost let them back in to have an opportunity to go and get a five-metre drive, and probably a couple of penalties which are avoidable. Those are the sort of things we talk about a lot, but it’s important we stay on point and don’t give sides like South Africa a chance,” said Easterby.

“Our maul defence at the end was excellent and put the game to bed, but there’s those sorts of things that you want to make sure in the last 20 minutes you’re on the front foot. We did well to get up the other end and we got a scrum penalty to get three points to take us to five points ahead.

“I think we also gave them a little bit of a window to get back into our 22 and give them an opportunity to get some access at the end. That’s certainly an area we need to make sure we stay on top of, building up to Scotland.”

Johnny Sexton, who was taken off against South Africa, allowing Jack Crowley kick three points against the world champions, has also recovered well after the physical challenge of taking on the Springboks.

“He’s good. He pitches up every day with a smile on his face,” said Easterby. “I’ve said it before but he’s the heartbeat, the talisman of this side and it’s hard to get him off the pitch when he’s in that mood, because he wants to be on there until the end. But it was the right thing to do. Jack came on and finished the game off really well. Listen, Johnny’s good, as are all of the other players currently.”

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times