O'Connell and Best ruled out of Ireland tour
May 28, 2010
Lock Paul O'Connell has been struggling with a groin injury since the start of the year © Getty Images
Ireland's Paul O'Connell and Rory Best have both been ruled out of next month's tour of New Zealand and Australia due to injury.
Munster lock O'Connell has has not played since the Six Nations defeat by Scotland at Croke Park in March because of an infection in his groin while Ulster hooker Best has been struggling with an ankle injury he picked up recently. Neither player has recovered sufficiently to be considered available for selection for the testing tour that includes one-off Tests against the All Blacks and the Wallabies and a game against the New Zealand Maori.
Uncapped Leinster hooker John Fogarty has been called into the squad to replace Best, while another uncapped player, Ulster second row Ed O'Donoghue, in also named in the tour party to replace O'Connell. The inclusion of Fogarty and O'Donoghue brings the number of uncapped players in the squad of 33 to five.
O'Connell was a surprise inclusion in the initial squad named by coach Declan Kidney 10 days ago after appearing to have played his last game this season. Having suffered various setbacks during a recovery that forced him to miss Munster's march to the Heineken Cup semi-finals, Kidney decided to give him every chance to prove his fitness for the tour. It was hoped he would recover in time to face the All Blacks or Wallabies, but today O'Connell and the Irish management learnt he would play no part.
Best had missed most of the season after undergoing surgery on a serious neck injury last summer only to make a remarkable recovery and return ahead of schedule. But having featured in the Six Nations, he sustained ankle damage on Magners League duty earlier this month which was worse than initially thought.
The news robs the Irish of valuable experience, with back-rowers Stephen Ferris and Denis Leamy and back Luke Fitzgerald already missing from the trip Down Under.
Ireland will begin the tour with a game against the Barbarians in Thomond Park on Friday June 4 before flying out for a meeting with New Zealand in New Plymouth on June 12. The New Zealand Maori welcome them to Rotorua on June 18 as part of the Maori centenary celebrations. The final game of the tour will see Ireland playing their Rugby World Cup Pool C opponents Australia in Brisbane on June 26.
Ireland squad for tour to New Zealand and Australia:
Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster), Tom Court (Malone/Ulster), Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht), Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster), John Fogarty (De la Salle Palmerston/Leinster)*, John Hayes (Bruff/Munster), Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster), Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster)*, Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster), Shane Horgan (Boyne/Leinster), Shane Jennings (St.Mary's College/Leinster), Robert Kearney (UCD/Leinster), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)*, Kevin McLaughlin (St.Mary's College/Leinster), John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht), Geordan Murphy (Leicester), Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Mick O'Driscoll (Cork Constitution/Munster), Ed O'Donoghue (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)*, Brian O'Driscoll (UCD/Leinster), Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Tomas O'Leary (Dolphin/Munster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (St.Mary's College/Leinster), Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Dan Tuohy (Ballymena/Ulster)*, David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster), Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
*Denotes uncapped player