The Ireland front-row will provide extra depth at hooker
Ronan Kelleher called up by Lions
Ronan Kelleher has been called up to the British & Irish Lions 2021 squad.
The Ireland hooker, who scored four tries against the USA on Saturday night, is flying out to South Africa with Alun Wyn Jones and will join up with the touring party in Cape Town tomorrow, Thursday 15 July.
There are already three hookers in the squad – Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jamie George and Ken Owens – but the Lions are keen to have additional cover in that position should there be injuries before or during the Test series against the Springboks.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland said: “I’m delighted to announce Ronan will join up with the squad.
“There are no injuries to the three hookers out here, but we think it’s prudent to bring in cover in that position ahead of the Test series.”
Gatland spoke earlier in the week about how a couple of injuries at hooker, in matches or training, would leave the Lions short in that position and could lead to uncontested scrums, which they would want to avoid.
Kelleher trained with the Lions squad for two weeks in Jersey as George and Cowan-Dickie were still busy with club commitments.
The 23-year-old made his Ireland debut against Scotland in the 2020 Six Nations and has now played in 13 Tests.
Last Saturday he equalled Keith Wood’s record of scoring four tries in a single match as an Ireland hooker. Both players achieved the feat against the USA, Wood in 1999 and Kelleher in 2021.
Whether Kelleher gets any game time in South Africa, we’ll have to wait and see.
Gatland confirmed that Jones will not be available for Saturday’s match against the Stormers because he has to go through isolation protocols on arrival so the same would be expected of Kelleher. Then it would be a case of pushing for a place in the Test 23.
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