Leinster coach Leo Cullen has encouraged the likes of Johnny Sexton, James Ryan, and Garry Ringrose to prove their sharpness in the coming weeks with the aim of an emergency call-up to the British and Irish Lions squad.
The trio were surprise omissions from Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad during the week, but Cullen thinks his players need to be ready if a late injury call-up is required for the tour to South Africa.
Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong, Jack Conan, and Andrew Porter were named in the squad on Thursday, and Cullen urged others to prove they are ready for a call-up.
“It was great for the guys to get selected. There has been plenty of commentary probably on our game over the weekend against La Rochelle.
“There is a couple of other guys who are clearly a little bit unlucky as well. But with games going on I’m sure there is going to be plenty of bangs and bruises between now and the end of the season.
“I think the message is for everybody to be ready at this point in time. And for guys that are playing today or over the next couple of weeks, it’s still an opportunity to perform well and keep your name in the ring,” said Cullen.
Sexton was included in the Lions squad on the last two tours, but hasn’t played in the last month due to a concussion. Both Ryan and Ringrose have had their injury issues this season, but are both available to their province.
Henshaw was named on the 2017 tour of New Zealand but picked up a chest muscle injury in one of the warm-up games. Cullen wished him and his fellow tourists well.
“It is a great honour for all those guys. Obviously, Tadhg has been before, as has Robbie. Robbie had an injury on that last tour. Hopefully he has a better trip this time.
“But amazing for Andrew Porter and for Jack Conan and all the people that have helped them to get to this point. It’s an amazing honour. Such a big time in players’ careers. It’s great news for those guys.”