- Kelleher returns to full fitness
- Sheenan ahead of schedule
- Nobody yet officially ruled out for first pool match
Ronan Kelleher, the Irish rugby hooker, is feeling remarkably fit as he heads into the Rugby World Cup, despite missing the warm-up games due to injury. The 25-year-old Leinster front-row player had been dealing with a hamstring issue before being included in Andy Farrell’s 33-man squad.
Kelleher and Sheenan recoveries lift Ireland
With the news that Dan Sheehan is “ahead of schedule” in his recovery, Kelleher’s return to full fitness is a significant boost for the Irish team, especially with their opening match against Romania just around the corner in Bordeaux.
Kelleher expressed his readiness for the tournament, saying, “I’m fighting fit and ready to go. I’ve been training at full capacity, and I’m eager to get started now. I did have a few minor issues in the past couple of weeks.”
He continued, “There are two ways to look at it. On one hand, you might think, ‘I didn’t get a chance to play a couple of games as I would have liked,’ but on the other hand, my body feels incredibly healthy, and that’s a positive.”
Kelleher recognizes that it’s rare for players to enter matches feeling completely healthy and sees this as an exciting opportunity, being his first World Cup appearance. He acknowledged the efforts of the medical team in getting the players back to full fitness and emphasized the importance of maintaining their condition during the tournament.
Kelleher, who has 21 caps for Ireland, became Andy Farrell’s first-choice hooker at the end of 2021 after being called up to train with the British and Irish Lions earlier that year. However, a shoulder injury during the 2022 Six Nations allowed his Leinster teammate, Dan Sheehan, to make his mark.
Sheehan has performed exceptionally well in the front row for Ireland, and with the additional option of Rob Herring from Ulster, Kelleher admits that there’s competition for the number two jersey.
Kelleher said, “Yes, there is some competition, but we understand that rugby is an 80-minute game, and there’s plenty of playing time to share. It’s about being prepared, whether you start or come off the bench to finish strong. Everyone has a role in those 80 minutes.”
In terms of injuries, besides Kelleher and Sheehan, prop Dave Kilcoyne and back-rower Jack Conan have also been dealing with physical issues in the lead-up to the World Cup. However, as of the latest report, none of the 33-man squad had been ruled out for the opening match against Romania.
John Fogarty, Ireland’s scrum coach, expressed confidence in the squad’s health and mentioned that they have a talented pool of hookers. He highlighted the competition among the players as a long-standing and positive aspect of Irish rugby.
Ireland are currently number one in the world rankings and it says a lot about the standard of the other top teams that most bookmakers, at the time of writing, only have them as fourth favourites. Many feel that New Zealand have a knack of grinding out results, France have both the quality and home advantage and that South Africa are hitting form at the right time. However, with Ireland getting their key men back just before the start of the pool stage there is every chance of the Six Nations Champions mounting a serious challenge.
Best Bookmaker Offers
18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £10 on any football market at minimum 1/1 odds. No cash out. Get £40 in Free Bets on selected events. Free Bets expire in 7 days. Debit card / Apple Pay payments only. T&Cs apply, see below. begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
18+ New Customers only. Max Win £10 Free Bet. Qualifying bets at odds 1/1 or greater. Paid as bonus token. Min 4/5 odds required. Skrill, Neteller, Paypal not eligible. BeGambleAware.org. T&Cs apply.
New UK, IE & Malta customers only. Min £10/€10 first deposit using Debit Card. Place a bet of £10 at min odds of 1.5 and get £10. Further £10 credited after 7 days and a further £10 credited after 14 days. Full T&Cs apply.18+. begambleaware.org
New customers & 18+ only. Min. deposit of £10.
The promotion reward functions as a £30 Surprise Bet. Qualifying real money bet of £10. Min odds greater than or equal to 1.5 required. E/W bets excluded. Offer awarded immediately but could be issued the next working day in exceptional circumstances such as technical fault. Additional T&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly. Full T&Cs
18+ | Play Responsibly | T&Cs Apply. Begambleaware.org