Exclusive: Sean Kennedy guaranteed London Irish game time

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith insists that Sean Kennedy is guaranteed game time on his month-long loan

By Gareth Llewellyn

Sean Kennedy will be guaranteed game time on his month-long loan at London Irish, The Sport Review can reveal.

With the Exiles down to one fit scrum-half in Tomás O’Leary, a decision will be made this week whether to start the 22-year-old in their LV=Cup match at London Wasps or play him from the bench.

He’s already impressed and he’ll certainly be getting game time

Brian Smith

Having started the season in the Edinburgh team while Greig Laidlaw was injured, Kennedy has been out since the autumn with a knee injury.

And, with the Scottish club short of upcoming fixtures in the RaboDirect Pro12, the switch to Sunbury gives him a chance to get back up to speed at an elite level.

Speaking to The Sport Review, London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith said: “Hopefully he stays healthy while he’s with us. We’ll make a decision as to whether we start him or play him from the bench this weekend but Tomás O’Leary is our only senior scrum-half who is fit and we have our young academy player who has limited experience, so Sean hasn’t come down for a holiday.

“He’s been really productive, very studious, he’s been making notes in all our meetings. He did the lion’s share of the scrum-half training yesterday with the squad. He’s already impressed and he’ll certainly be getting game time.”

Kennedy’s switch to London Irish is the third time the Premiership side have loaned Edinburgh players this season, which Smith puts down to an excellent relationship with the Celtic sides with restrictions on loaning players from English clubs.

He added: “We’ve got a really good relationship with [Edinburgh managing director] David Davies and the guys at Edinburgh and we had Ben Toolis and Alex Toolis down earlier in the season, they were down short-term, so they were able to play some LV= Cup as well.

“We enjoy a good relationship with all the Irish provinces and Scottish provinces [sic] so it’s helpful for us because clearly you can’t loan players from other Premiership clubs and the Championship clubs play a lot of rugby as well.

“Sometimes it works out well, there might be someone not getting as much game time as they need or coming back from injury, so hopefully we can help Sean sharpen his game and get him some game time and push his way to the top of the pile when he goes back to Edinburgh.”

While Kennedy headed south to link up with the Exiles, Smith will lose Blair Cowan and Kieran Low to the Scotland A squad ahead of their clash with England Saxons on 31 January, as well as Marland Yarde to England’s Six Nations squad.

Kennedy featured as Scotland A got their first win on English soil 12 months ago with a 13-9 win at Kingston Park, but his omission from the squad this year will allow him to continue his comeback ahead of his return to Edinburgh.

However, Smith said he would support the player’s ambitions to play for his country if Scotland A coach Shade Munro called for him.

Speaking before the Scotland A squad was announced this morning, Smith said: “If Sean gets picked for Scotland A we have [Ed Hoadley] in our academy who can step up and help shoulder the burden for a week.

“I don’t know what the national selectors plan to do, but we’d obviously support Sean’s ambitions. We know he was part of a successful Scotland A campaign last season and we think he is a quality player.”

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