Gregor Townsend has revealed that he has been in contact with John Cooney over his imminent eligibility for Scotland.
As Cooney last played for Ireland on February 23rd 2020, the Ulster scrum-half will be eligible to play for Scotland next month thanks to his Scottish father and World Rugby’s new eligibility rules.
While Cooney has not been included in Scotland’s Six Nations squad, as he won’t be eligible to play for the Scots until the third round of the championship, he may be brought in at a later point in time.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was speaking at the Six Nations media launch and revealed that he will consider calling up Cooney during the championship once the Dubliner becomes available.
Gregor Townsend on John Cooney.
“I spoke to John when the rule changes came about. He actually reached out to me, just to let me know that it would be something he’d consider, a lot of his family are living in Scotland,” Townsend explained.
“In terms of timelines, he’s not available until later on in the championship, so obviously it wasn’t something that we considered for the beginning of the championship.
“We’ll look at when he’s available, and whether we feel it’s right to bring him in, in terms of his performances compared to the nines we have here, but also in terms of the speed that he will require to get up to speed with how we play.
“It will be challenging for someone coming into a championship, but it’s great to know that he was keen to be involved with us and adds to our depth at scrum-half.”
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— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) January 17, 2023
Ben Healy’s Scotland switch.
Cooney isn’t the only Irish-born player who could represent Scotland in the coming months, as Munster out-half Ben Healy has been called up to Townsend’s Six Nations squad.
Healy, who qualifies for Scotland through his maternal grandparents, will also join Edinburgh at the end of the season, and while Townsend was part of that conversation he doesn’t believe he played a pivotal role in the Tipperary man’s decision.
“Not much, you’d have to ask Ben on that. Glasgow were trying to sign Ben two years ago, and I had a conversation with Ben, Glasgow asked me to have a conversation with him, and he stayed at Munster so I didn’t have much effect,” Townsend said.
“This time around Edinburgh were keen to sign him, again I had a conversation with Ben, he actually came over to watch one of our games in November and signed for Edinburgh.
“I think it’s what the clubs are offering in terms of where they see him, and what it going to mean, being a Glasgow or Edinburgh player. Things are going really well at Edinburgh, and they’ve probably convinced him to go there.”