Dan Leavy returns to Ireland squad ahead of clash with Wales
Leavy’s return to the fold will provide continued competition for Seán O’Brien
Ireland’s Dan Leavy has returned to the squad for the Six Nations clash with Wales. Photo:James Crombie/Inpho
Flanker Dan Leavy is back with the Irish squad in their Kildare training base. The Leinster openside has been rehabbing a calf injury and has not played in any of Ireland’s opening four Six Nations Championship matches.
Leavy’s return will provide continued competition for Seán O’Brien who was left out of Joe Schmidt’s match day squad against France last weekend with Josh van der Flier now consigned to the sidelines with a groin injury and unavailable to Schmidt this week.
Van der Flier came off against France after 23 minutes, allowing Jack Conan a protracted run in Ireland’s third win of the championship.
“Josh van der Flier, he’s withdrawn this week due to a groin injury,” said Irish scrum coach Greg Feek. “Obviously with a short turn around as well it’s difficult to get those sorts of things right.
“Dan Leavy is in the group so he will train with us fully and Ross Byrne has been let go for now. That’s pretty much the injury update. We got him (Leavy) in to make sure...obviously he’s been in the squad before we’ll just have to see how things go this afternoon with him.”
Fullback Rob Kearney, who was late withdrawl last week with calf tightness and outhalf Joey Carbery will take part in light running on Tuesday. But no decision has yet been made on their fitness to participate in Ireland’s final match against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. Munster lock Tadhg Beirne is also hoping that Schmidt will take notice.
“They (Kearney and Carbery) are getting their boots on and they’ll have a light run so we’ll see where that goes with them,” said Feek. “To be honest, we’ll have to wait and see. At the moment, they’re ready to rock and roll. It was a precautionary thing for Rob last week so we’re hoping that he’s fine but again he’s the best judge of that at the end of the day. Getting out there with the boots on will be the key factor.
“Tadhg Beirne, he’s looking pretty good as well. If he gets through today and gets his detail right then more or less they have all got their hands up.”
Leavy has not played since picking up his injury in training in early January, while O’Brien has been in training but out of favour with selection.
“He has been ripping really hard, Seanie. I suppose that’s put him in contention. I think those sorts of things are a natural progression. Dan is there as well. So we’ll make our minds up,” added a non-committal Feek.
The issue of the roof in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium also arose for the final game. Ireland agreed to close the roof two years at the venue where Schmidt has never has Six Nations Championship success. Controversy arose when it was revealed that Wales coach Warren Gatland had told stadium officials to water the pitch.
“We’ll decide on the roof issue in the next few days,” says Feek. “The forecast isn’t great but that shouldn’t affect the skills at this level of rugby. It’s out of my control, the coaches together and a few players will have input into the decision.
“There was a rumour they watered the pitch two years ago. But listen, it’s a good story but in terms of bothering us, you can pretend it does but it doesn’t really.”