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Ulster star John Cooney added to Ireland squad ahead of Six Nations clash with Wales

By Gareth Hanna

Ulster scrum-half John Cooney will train with Ireland this week ahead of Saturday's game against Wales at Aviva Stadium.

The 27-year-old has been in impressive form for the province since his summer move from Connacht. He scored all of Ulster's 16 points during Friday's last gasp defeat to Edinburgh with a converted try and three successful penalties.

Cooney has so far scored 158 points in 19 Ulster appearances this season. He made his Ireland debut as a substitute during last summer's 35-22 win over Japan.

He has been called into Ireland's training sessions after an injury to Luke McGrath, sustained in Leinster's 20-13 win over Scarlets last weekend.

Cooney has long targeted Ireland's back-up scrum-half position behind Munster's Conor Murray. He is vying for the spot alongside McGrath and Connacht's Kieron Marmion and just last month reiterated his belief that he could step up to international level.

“I’m a competitive person and I’ve always felt a bit hard done by in general by the rankings at the moment," he said.

“I’d see myself as good as them so it hurts when other people say these guys are clearly ahead of you or they deserve to be ahead of you. On my performances I’ve done just as well as them or even better. I’m a competitive person so it does annoy me.”

Cooney's Ulster team-mate Rob Herring misses out after picking up an elbow injury against Edinbrugh on Friday evening.  Munster hooker Niall Scannell replaces Herring while Leinster centre Garry Ringrose replaces Robbie Henshaw in the panel. Henshaw will miss the remainder of the campaign with a shoulder injury.

The IRFU also confirmed that Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan are all progressing through the rehabilitation programmes.

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