Seán Cronin called up for Ireland’s tour to USA and Canada
Leinster hooker elevated following Rory Best’s selection for the Lions
Seán Cronin: is currently understudy to Richardt Strauss at Leinster. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Seán Cronin has joined the Ireland squad in Carton House as they prepare for a tour of the USA and Canada in June. The Leinster hooker has been bumped up from the Emerging Irish squad, which will take part in the Tbilisi Cup in Georgia, following Rory Best’s selection by Warren Gatland for the Lions squad on Sunday.
No player has yet been added to the Emerging Irish squad to replace Cronin with an announcement likely to be made today.
The Leinster hooker, who came on for Richardt Strauss in the final 11 minutes of the first half of Saturday’s Pro 12 final against Ulster, has already played 26 times for Ireland but has been understudy to the South African born Strauss under Joe Schmidt at Leinster.
The tour is an opportunity for the Limerick-born Cronin to stake a claim for next season, where Schmidt has taken over from Declan Kidney as Ireland’s coach. Best is regarded as first-choice hooker and Strauss is preferred at Leinster to Cronin, so the 27-year-old has significant ground to make up.
The IRFU sanctioned Leinster’s signing of Strauss as a “project player”. He was then named in the Ireland squad in October 2012 for the November internationals against South Africa, Argentina and Fiji and was named in the Irish team to play against the Springboks in November of last year, where he lined out against his cousin Adriaan Strauss.
There was some concern yesterday over the fitness of Ulster’s Stuart Olding, who was also picked for the tour to the US and Canada. The inside centre, who has had a meteoric rise in Ulster following injury to Luke Marshall and Paddy Wallace, was replaced by Mike Allen 64 minutes into Saturday’s final. It is thought that Olding suffered an ankle problem.
It has been a similarly rapid rise for captain of the touring side Peter O’Mahony. If the 23-year-old Munster flanker leads Ireland for the first time against the USA in Houston on June 8th, it will make him the youngest Ireland captain since Brian O’Driscoll. O’Driscoll was also 23 when he captained Ireland to victory over Australia in 2002.
O’Mahony will also be the first Cork native to captain Ireland since the recently retired Ronan O’Gara did so against England in March 2008.