5 Jun 2012

Mike Ross main concern for Irish

11:42 am on 5 June 2012

Prop Mike Ross is Ireland's most serious fitness doubt ahead of Saturday's first rugby test against New Zealand at Eden Park.

The Leinster player limped out of the Celtic League final just over a week ago after suffering a small hamstring tear.

Ireland team manager Michael Kearney says Ross is facing a battle to be fit. He hasn't trained fully and remains in some doubt.

If Ross is ruled out, Ulster tighthead Declan Fitzpatrick and Connacht's Brett Wilkinson will be in contention to be drafted into the Irish front row.

Kearney had better news about Cian Healy and Sean O'Brien, saying that they are nearing full fitness.

The Irish are already without influential forwards Paul O'Connell and Stephen Ferris for the three-test tour.