Luke Fitzgerald’s grade two medial tear sustained during Leinster’s loss to Connacht in the Guinness Pro 12 final in Edinburgh at the weekend has ruled him out Ireland’s tour of South Africa.
The Leinster back had already missed out on the entire 6 Nations campaign after having sustained an injury during training in January and it would appear that lady luck has deserted him again as he is now ruled out of action for a minimum of four weeks.
With Munster back Simon Zebo not expected to be back running fully for another week or so, this has opened the door for Matt Healy to make the step up to international grade.
After a superb season for the western province Schmidt feels that the Connacht back is an ideal replacement for the unfortunate Fitzggerald after having missed out on 32-man squad. (source via irishtimes.com)
“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.”
While not a like-for-like replacement, an argument could be made for Stu McCloskey to be deserving of a call-up based on form and suitability in combating the size and strength of the Springboks back line.
However Schmidt has stated that, despite the wreck that McCloskey has been causing this season and the glimpses of potential he displayed in his solitary outing for Ireland against England in the 6 Nations, a summer off and full pre-season would be much more beneficial for the Bangor native than batting it out in the plains of Africa: (source via belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
“I’ve had a really good discussion with Stu,” said Schmidt yesterday during a press conference to announce the Irish rugby team’s new four-year sponsorship deal with Vodafone.
“He is a guy who has picked up a couple of injuries but he is coming back to full fitness. He was fit enough to strike out and play in the semi-final (in the PRO12 against Leinster) and give a solid account of himself and he’s had a massive first season.
“It’s really his first full season as a starting player in Ulster, then to be projected into a Test match in Twickenham… he’s a guy who could do with a full summer and then come back next season having learnt a few lessons and having demonstrated a fair bit of potential.”
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