Rugby World Cup: Ireland hooker Ronan Kelleher fit and raring to go ahead of opening game against Romania | Rugby Union News

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Ireland hooker Ronan Kelleher has endured a series of injury setbacks during the past 18 months and missed each of his country’s warm-up matches with a hamstring issue; Ireland start their Rugby World Cup campaign against Romania on Saturday

Last Updated: 04/09/23 6:02pm

Ronan Kelleher has had his fair share of injury problems ahead of the World Cup

Ronan Kelleher has had his fair share of injury problems ahead of the World Cup

Hooker Ronan Kelleher insisted his “body feels unbelievably healthy” as he declared himself fit for Ireland’s Rugby World Cup opener.

The 25-year-old has endured a series of injury setbacks during the past 18 months and missed each of his country’s warm-up matches amid a hamstring issue.

Ireland flew to France on Thursday with potential problems in the middle of their front row as first-choice No 2 Dan Sheehan sustained a foot injury in last month’s win over England.

Scrum coach John Fogarty said on Monday that none of Ireland’s 33-man squad have been ruled out of Saturday’s Pool B clash with Romania in Bordeaux, while Kelleher was extremely positive about his own condition.

“I’m fighting fit and ready to go,” he said. “I’ve been training fully and I’m just raring to get going now. I had a few little niggles there over the last couple of weeks.

Wales are greeted by scores of fans as they arrive for their Rugby World Cup 2023 welcome ceremony in Versailles, France.

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Wales are greeted by scores of fans as they arrive for their Rugby World Cup 2023 welcome ceremony in Versailles, France.

Wales are greeted by scores of fans as they arrive for their Rugby World Cup 2023 welcome ceremony in Versailles, France.

“There’s obviously two ways of looking at it. You’d be thinking ‘maybe I haven’t got a couple of games under the belt, which I would have liked’, but at the same time my body feels unbelievably healthy, so it’s great.

“You very rarely go into matches feeling 100 per cent healthy. For me personally, first World Cup, really looking forward to it.

“It’s been unfortunate really, just unlucky, but the medics have done some job getting us all back fit and it’s just about staying on top of it now that we’re out here.”

In addition to Kelleher and Sheehan, prop Dave Kilcoyne and back-rower Jack Conan were sidelined during the build-up to the tournament.

Ireland boss Andy Farrell, who also has Ulster hooker Rob Herring at his disposal, has remained upbeat amid the fitness doubts, an assessment echoed by coach Fogarty.

Former England fullback Jason Robinson believes Steve Borthwick's current squad has a lot of work to do in order to overcome their poor form and succeed at the Rugby World Cup.

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Former England fullback Jason Robinson believes Steve Borthwick’s current squad has a lot of work to do in order to overcome their poor form and succeed at the Rugby World Cup.

Former England fullback Jason Robinson believes Steve Borthwick’s current squad has a lot of work to do in order to overcome their poor form and succeed at the Rugby World Cup.

“No one is ruled out and we’ll see how things go over the next couple of days,” he said. “We’ve got some brilliant people assisting the fellas through their programmes and we’ve got a healthy group.

“We’re so lucky to have such talented hookers. They’re aware that they’re in a competition with each other. It’s always been that way.”

Kelleher initially stole a march in the quest to become Rory Best’s long-term successor courtesy of some standout displays across 2021, which led to training with the British and Irish Lions.

However, he concedes he is now playing catch-up in the battle to be Ireland’s preferred starter after a shoulder injury sustained during defeat to France in last year’s Six Nations opened the door for Leinster team-mate Sheehan.

“Maybe a little bit, yes,” said Kelleher. “But we know it’s an 80-minute game. You’re going to have to do a job. You know there’s plenty of game time to go around.

“It’s about making sure you’re ready no matter if you’re selected to start or if you’re selected to come off the bench to finish strong. Everyone has a role to do in those 80 minutes.

“It can only be a positive thing for Irish rugby and us two as well that we’re constantly driving each other on and competing for that No 2 jersey.”



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