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Jack Kelly back from injury to boost Ireland World Cup quest

 

By Cian Tracey

Jack Kelly's World Cup dream was very nearly over before it even began, but for all of the disruptions that the Ireland U-20s have endured, having the player who was initially named captain for the Six Nations travel with them to Georgia is a huge boost.

Ireland begin their campaign against Italy tomorrow and Kelly will face a late fitness test to determine if he is ready to return from the shoulder injury that has hampered him since the win over Scotland in February.

There was plenty of excitement about Kelly's potential going into the Six Nations but he never got a chance to show what he is really capable of.

A devastating line breaker, the former St Michael's student is comfortable playing across the back line but his preference is full-back. At this stage, however, Kelly will be happy enough to get back on the pitch again because just after he had returned to full training two weeks ago, he rolled his ankle.

Thankfully the knock wasn't as bad as first feared and his shoulder remains the biggest concern. He is, however, confident that it will hold up.

"I have had a long time out now," Kelly said.

"I'd always be fighting against the support staff back in Leinster but they are happy for me to go.

"Initially they said 'if you don't turn a corner with your rehab it might not happen'. They wouldn't let me go if they weren't completely confident that I would be able to play.

"Thankfully with the rehab, with the work I was doing, it came around, turned a corner and now it is feeling good - I'm confident about it."

Head coach Peter Malone has opted to hand the captaincy to Paul Boyle, which is as much to do with taking some of the pressure off Kelly as it is a reflection of Boyle's leadership qualities.

"You can't always be fit. It's easier for myself, having not played in a good few months, to concentrate on trying to play well myself and not having to worry about the team as a whole. It's a bit of pressure off," he said.

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