Simon Easterby has said that the reason for Sean Cronin’s exclusion from the Ireland squad ahead of Sunday’s clash with France is due to the need to build more depth at hooker in what he describes as a “specialist position”.
The Ireland forwards coach fielded questions from the media this afternoon at the team’s base in Carton House and the topic of Cronin’s omission from the 37-man squad received plenty of attention.
Cronin was handed his first Six Nations start against Italy in Round 3 of the championship but a disappointing performance in which the lineout malfunctioned saw him removed after just eight minutes into the second half.
The Limerick man has paid the price for that performance as he has been excluded from the current squad but this presents an opportunity to Ulster’s Rob Herring who is among the 37-man group.
Easterby insists the decision is related to building depth.
“I guess we’re looking continually to build some depth in positions,” Easterby said.
“Sean has been involved in the first three games, he has started in Italy, and in a specialist position like hooker, probably only nine and maybe 10 as well where you don’t get guys playing other positions.
“We’re just looking to continually build some depth and find out a bit more about players that we need to work with towards what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks and the end of the year.”
The Ireland coach also doesn’t believe that it’s a harsh call to leave Cronin out of the squad.
“Well, no, my reasoning is what I said – it’s to do with building some depth and we know a lot about Sean. He has been in camp a long time, he has been in the squad a long time and has a lot of caps. It’s an opportunity to see a bit more of other players.
“That doesn’t exclude him from next week and it certainly doesn’t exclude him from us going forward. We need to keep building that depth and knowledge of those players in that position.”
Easterby confirmed that each member of Ireland’s 37-man squad trained today, including Joey Carbery but Sunday may be too soon for the Munster out-half as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain.