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Boost as Gilroy passed fit for Rome

By Conor George

Craig Gilroy has given Ireland coach Declan Kidney a much needed boost this week – the Ulster winger is available for the trip to Rome.

Gilroy missed out on last weekend's game against France after succumbing to a groin injury but came through Tuesday's training session with no problems and can expect to be returned to the starting line-up for Saturday's game against Italy.

"I had been afraid I would miss the game altogether, but I worked hard over the last week and a half and did a lot of rehab and a lot of work with the physios," said Gilroy.

"I ran today and felt really good so I'd love to be involved at the weekend."

Gilroy had been close to making the game against France but suffered a setback in training in the lead up to the team announcement.

"It was just a wee niggle that got worse but the time I've had off my feet recently has been a massive help and I'm buzzing now and just ready to get back playing," he added.

In other news Brian O'Driscoll, Luke Marshall and Donnacha Ryan all took a limited part in training yesterday although none of the three engaged in contact and a decision on their availability for Saturday's game will be made later this week.

Meanwhile the presence of Lions' coach Warren Gatland's at Ireland's training camp yesterday has prompted speculation he was sounding Brian O'Driscoll out about becoming the first Irishman to ever captain the Tourists twice.

The Lions coach has spent time in each of the Celtic nations' camps during the Six Nations Championship but the calls for O'Driscoll to become just the second Irish man to ever captain the Tourists again are reaching crescendo levels.

O'Driscoll has been an irresistible force for Ireland in this year's Championship despite the poor results and he would surely be a hugely popular appointee.

It is noteworthy that Gatland was the one who fast-tracked O'Driscoll into the Ireland senior side in 1999 before he had even played for the Leinster senior side, awarding him his first senior cap that year against Australia.

The Kiwi was also coach to Ireland when O'Driscoll announced his greatness to the world with that hat-trick of tries against France in the Paris in the 2000 Six Nations Championship. That was Ireland's first win over France away since 1972.

Gatland was an uninvolved observer of Ireland's training session yesterday and also sat in on the team meeting at Carton House last night.

He will have been running his eye over a number of potential Irish tourists, but the 'BOD for Captain' is the more romantic view of his trip to Kildare!

Paul O'Connell said another injury would have "broken him" after emerging unscathed from his latest comeback yesterday with his sights firmly set on Munsteer's Heineken Cup quarter-final clash against Harlequins next month.

O'Connell played 40 minutes of Munster A's victory over Leinster A in Limerick yesterday and reported no adverse reaction in his first game in five months, ten weeks after undergoing surgery on a back complaint.

"I was a little bit more nervous than in the past," said the 33-year-old former Lions captain.

"Not about my back really but the possibility that I could pick up another injury or anything, but then that could happen any time you go out on the pitch really.

"If that had happened, it probably would have broken me. It's great to get 40 minutes."

Belfast Telegraph


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