Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Six Nations 2010: Geordan Murphy in line for Ireland start against Wales

Geordan Murphy, the Leicester Tigers full-back, could be in line for a sensational return to the Ireland side for their Six Nations match against Wales at Croke Park on Saturday.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney will name his match day 22-man squad on Tuesday, but with Lions full-back Rob Kearney currently sidelined for up to five weeks with a knee injury, Murphy is back into contention for his first international action since appearing as a substitute as Ireland completed their Grand Slam triumph against Wales last March.

Murphy’s timely return, however, has been tempered by two more injuries within the Ireland camp, with Seán O’Brien and Donnacha Ryan the latest casualties.

O’Brien fractured his lower leg in the opening stages of Leinster’s 27-14 defeat of the Scarlets at the RDS on Saturday, and will be out for 10 weeks, while it was confirmed that Ryan dislocated his shoulder in Munster’s defeat of Edinburgh last Friday. Both were on the bench in Paris and against Italy.

Either Shane Jennings or Kevin McLaughlin, who started against Italy in the absence of Stephen Ferris, are in line for promotion to the Ireland bench. If Donncha O’Callaghan gets the all clear from a knee injury he would also probably make the replacements.

Ulster captain Rory Best, who has made a remarkable recovery from a neck injury sustained last summer that was originally thought to have ruled him out of this season, is set to replace the suspended Jerry Flannery at hooker, with Connacht’s Seán Cronin likely to be named on the bench.

Meanwhile, Wales head coach Warren Gatland looks set to name Sale scrum-half Dwayne Peel in his match day squad for the visit of France to the Millennium Stadium on Friday.

The Sale scrum-half, who has recovered from the groin injury that saw him miss Wales’ matches against England and Scotland, was called into Gatland’s 34-man squad having proved his fitness by playing 80 minutes of the Sharks 19-10 Guinness Premiership defeat by Leeds over the weekend.

Peel’s availability will come as a relief as Gareth Cooper has struggled in the starting role thus far in the championship and Gatland is glad to have 72-times capped Peel available for selection.

“It was important for us to see Dwayne come through 80 minutes of rugby,” Gatland said.

“But, once he proved his fitness, it’s obvious that a player of his experience and talents would provide a welcome boost to any squad.”

Ireland V Wales Hospitality

Six Nations Hospitality

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