Murray Kinsella reports from Chicago
JOE SCHMIDT SAYS Peter O’Mahony is fully fit ahead of Saturday’s November Test against Argentina in Dublin, but fullback Rob Kearney is a doubt with a shoulder issue.
Leinster man Kearney suffered the injury while playing for his province two weekends ago and is now in a race against time to prove his fitness before the visit of the Pumas.
O’Mahony is fit and ready to take on the Pumas. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Munster captain O’Mahony appeared to hurt his shoulder in this team’s Pro14 win over Glasgow two weekends ago, but Schmidt says he is in the clear and “definitely” available for Ireland’s second November Test.
“There’s nothing the matter with Pete,” said Schmidt. “Pete’s fine and trained fully during [last] week.
“Rob, he’d be a chance. I think he probably will struggle to make Tuesday’s training which might mean that Saturday might be too soon for him but I’ll have a better idea once I hit the ground on Monday morning and touch base with them.
“He’ll be straight into camp and I’ll catch up with him then and so will the medics and we’ll make a decision on the back of that.”
Given the doubt around Kearney, Jordan Larmour’s three-try performance against Italy in Chicago on Saturday appears even more valuable.
The 21-year-old played 60 minutes of the game at fullback before shifting to the left wing for the last quarter and underlined his prodigious ability.
Andrew Conway and Will Addison would be the other options at fullback if Kearney is unavailable, but Larmour has to be favourite after his showing at Soldier Field.
Kearney could miss out on the Argentina Test. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
“Jordan knew that there was a window of opportunity so he wanted to open it reasonably wide and then crawl through it for three tries,” said Schmidt. “So he did that pretty well.
“He just has a contagious enthusiasm on the pitch, which is great, and in behind what you see on the pitch he works really hard, which is really positive as well. Some of the bits of the game that aren’t quite as visible he does a really good job of.”
Schmidt said Ireland are “still trying to work out” what Larmour’s best position it, with the Leinster flyer also having made an appearance at outside centre off the bench in their Grand Slam-clinching win against England earlier this year.
“I think the freedom he gets at fullback is quite neat because he can play either side of the pitch,” said Schmidt. “But you saw him on the wing at the end and if we can create a bit of space for him he’s incredibly dangerous.
“In the first half when he opened them up and sort of handed that ball off to Luke McGrath for the try he demonstrated he does both really well. So that’s one of the conundrums for us.
“Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls are two guys who have been in super form for us and Andrew Conway has played a fair bit for us as well. So there’s some good competition and they are the really positive headaches for you as a coach.”
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