Ireland look set to mix up selection for the series-deciding third Test against Australia as Joe Schmidt assesses some bruised and battered bodies for the final game of the season on Saturday.
Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne joined Ireland training at the North Sydney Oval yesterday ahead of the third and final Test as fellow loosehead prop Cian Healy continues to recover from a shoulder problem.
Forwards coach Simon Easterby said Kilcoyne, 29, whose 22nd Ireland cap came off the bench against Argentina last November, was not an official member of the tour squad but it is difficult to imagine his arrival in Sydney is not unconnected to Healy’s AC joint problem that forced his 46th-minute withdrawal from the second-Test victory over the Wallabies in Melbourne last Saturday.
Easterby did deliver a positive injury update after training in torrential rain yesterday, but said: “I think there will be some changes, whether that’s the starting team or the bench.
“We’re not that far out from a World Cup and this has been a great tour for us to get to know players who we’re maybe not that familiar with and get some game time and training time with those players.”
Healy, flanker Dan Leavy (sternum), and Saturday’s opening try-scoring wing Andrew Conway (hip) are all concerns for Ireland and the assistant coach said: “We had a couple of guys who were managed today but on the whole, I believe the players have come through.
“They’ve recovered really well, the medical staff and conditioning staff have done a great job getting the players right and the players themselves have really looked after themselves after a pretty bruising encounter in Melbourne.
“We were delighted with the numbers that were able to train today.
“Cian trained, Dan we managed a bit but he did some stuff. Andrew is still carrying quite a nasty hip pointer but the way they’ve presented themselves 48 hours post-game is very encouraging.
“We’re pretty happy with the availability at training today but also the way the players have shown up today and even the guys that have carried some serious bumps from the weekend are looking far better than expected.”
Asked whether any players had been added to the squad, Easterby replied: “Not to the official squad, no, no one’s come in.”
Asked specifically about Kilcoyne, who had been photographed in Ireland training kit with the squad during the session, the forwards coach said: “He has been in for just today. He’s not been made officially part of the squad.
Kilcoyne is not the first unannounced player to train with Joe Schmidt’s squad on this three-week tour. Sale Sharks’ Irish-qualified utility back Will Addison spent time with the Grand Slam winners in Melbourne last week ahead of his summer move to Ulster.
“Certainly, in Will’s case, he was over visiting family and he had an opportunity to come in and I guess when you’ve got someone who’s moving to Ulster and is Irish-qualified and we had the opportunity to get him into the squad was good, and for the players to meet him. It was quite a useful time for him and for us to see him in action.”
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