Matt Healy in line for Ireland call in place of injured Luke Fitzgerald

Connacht winger set to cap dream season with spot on South Africa tour

Joe Schmidt made his first media appearance since March where he talked about Connacht's Pro 12 success along with his own frustrations about international management.

 

Luke Fitzgerald’s grade two medial tear, sustained during Saturday’s Pro 12 final in Edinburgh, looks set to see Matt Healy tour South Africa.

The hugely impressive Connacht winger was excluded from the initial 32-man Ireland squad but Fitzgerald’s latest injuries opens the door for the uncapped 27-year-old Dubliner.

Healy’s call-up was tweeted by the IRFU this afternoon but quickly deleted.

“Matt is certainly in contention, and as a left footer he would be a like for like with Luke,” said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt during his first media appearance since March.

“Niyi (Adeolokun), Tiernan (O’Halloran) and Matt had super games for Connacht last Saturday and that immediately puts pressure on their opponents,” Schmidt said of the try scorers in the 20-10 victory over Leinster.

“Due to Luke picking up the knee injury one of those Connacht players is likely to be in the frame to be his replacement.

“We’ll firm that up, probably tonight, and have him in camp tomorrow.

“That could well be Matt,” Schmidt added.

“Some of the Connacht players, like Tom McCartney and Bundee Aki, are not available for us to pick.”

McCartney and Aki will qualify to play for Ireland via the World Rugby three-year residency law in October 2017.

Schmidt also noted that Tommy O’Donnell was not selected as the Munster flanker would not be available for the entire tour as he is getting married this summer.

Regarding the surprise inclusion of Quinn Roux, the 25-year-old South African-born lock, Schmidt explained Roux’s 124 kilogram frame might prove an essential weapon against the Springboks.

Roux failed to make the Connacht squad for the Pro 12 semi and final as Pat Lam preferred Aly Muldowney, Ultan Dillane and Andrew Browne.

“Quinn has been in and out with Connacht. One of the things with the four other secondrows we have is they all tend to play on the loosehead side of the scrum. Quinn is the sole tighthead side of the scrum player that is fully fit and available. And he has shown potential.

“He is a very strong scrummager and very strong in the lineout. If you go to South Africa you have got to be very, very good in your set piece.

“Quinn is an investment in our set piece, and it is an investment in Quinn. We are very keen for Quinn to invest in us and demonstrate what he can do for us.”

Ireland’s first of the three Test series is at Newlands stadium in Cape Town on Saturday, June 11th (kick-off 5pm).

The IRFU today also announced a four-year deal with Vodafone that is worth €15 million.

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