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Cronin aims to force way into Lions reckoning

By Cian Tracey

Sean Cronin accepts that missing the Six Nations has damaged his chances of touring New Zealand with the Lions this summer but also knows he offers something different to any of the other hookers.

The Limerick man's hamstring tear could hardly have come at a worse time and although his Six Nations hopes were scuppered, Leinster's run in the Champions Cup and Pro12 could see him force his way into contention for a place in Warren Gatland's squad.

Cronin is ahead of schedule and is in line to return for the European quarter-final against Wasps on April 1 as he looks to recapture his excellent form from the first half of the season.

"I was playing decent rugby and would have been in the shake-up until I got my injury," he said.

"But the guys who are playing in these big Test matches under Test match pressure are the guys who will be going.

"I'm sure he (Gatland) probably has 80 per cent of his squad picked already. Realistically, my aim is to get back involved in the big games with Leinster and see what happens. I think I've proven over time that I can provide a lot of impact off the bench.

"If, and that's a big if, the coaches were looking for something like that, then I would bring it. They have my number if they need me."

Cronin's frustration was compounded last week when Ulster's Rory Best, the Ireland captain, ended his run through illness of playing in 51 consecutive Six Nations games, handing Niall Scannell his debut against Italy with France coming to Dublin tomorrow week.

"It was typical that Rory goes down. I was sitting at home going 'Yeah that's the way it always goes, isn't it?' He (Scannell) did really well," he said.

Meanwhile, England skipper Dylan Hartley's chances of leading the Lions have "gone backwards" with Wales' Alun Wyn Jones likely to captain the tourists, according to former Lions skipper Gavin Hastings.

Belfast Telegraph

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