Lions coach heaps praise on "outstanding" Ronan Kelleher ahead of Japan Test 2 months ago

Lions coach heaps praise on "outstanding" Ronan Kelleher ahead of Japan Test

The Leinster hooker could yet find himself involved this weekend.

Ronan Kelleher has now travelled and trained with the British & Irish Lions in Jersey and Scotland. He may even feature against Japan at Murrayfield, this Saturday.

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On Sunday, he is set to head back to Dublin, though, as the Lions squad prepares to embark on a seven-week adventure in South Africa. He could yet earn himself a replacement call-up, but the paths are set to diverge.

With Jamie George (Saracens) and Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter) playing late into the English club season, the Leinster and Ireland hooker was drafted in for training runs, and has earned the praise of teammates and coaches alike.

Ahead of this weekend's game against Japan [the Lions team is named on Tuesday morning], Lions coach Steve Handy had plenty of positives o report when asked about Kelleher.

(L-R) Chris Harris, Conor Murray, Tadhg Beirne and Ronan Kelleher walk out of the surf ,with Elizabeth Castle in the background, during a British and Irish Lions recovery session at Saint Aubin's Bay, Jersey. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

"Ronan has been brilliant," says Lions forwards coach Tandy, "absolutely brilliant since coming in.

"He has really bought into it. I know it might be tough [for him] leaving, but to even have 24 hours, a week or 10 days in a Lions environment, I'm sure, you learn loads.

"Even being a part of it shows where you need to get to, or what you're doing. But he has been outstanding. I've been very, very impressed with how he goes about his business. Great kid and really impressive on the training field too."

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Both the Saracens contingent [five players, including George] and Finn Russell have linked up with the squad this morning. Should Tandy, Warren Gatland and the coaching staff want to go easy on George - a 2017 Lions tourist - Kelleher could yet back up Wales' Ken Owens for the Japan game.

Tandy says 'one or two' of the late arrivals may feature in the matchday squad - announced at 11am on Tuesday - but the starting XV will, more likely than not, be made up from the 26 players that first arrived in Jersey on June 13.

*A very special British & Irish House of Rugby show - fronted by Sean O'Brien and Alex Goode - will start on June 25 and run for the duration of the Lions Tour. Follow and subscribe to it HERE


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