Ross concern for Ireland
Prop is a doubtful starter in Auckland
Last Updated: 04/06/12 2:56pm
Mike Ross: Ireland prop has hamstring strain
Mike Ross is facing an uphill battle to be fit in time for Ireland's first Test against New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.
The Leinster prop suffered a slight hamstring tear in the Pro 12 final against Ospreys at the end of last month, limping out of the clash after just 16 minutes.
However, Cian Healy and Sean O'Brien, Ireland's two other injury concerns, are nearing full fitness and should be available.
Ireland team manager Michael Kearney said: "Mike Ross is rehabbing from his hamstring tear. It is going well but he hasn't trained fully and remains in some doubt ahead of the weekend."
Kearney added: "Cian trained fully today and is good to go.
"Sean O'Brien is continuing to rehabilitate well and he accelerated his rehab this morning. We are hopeful that he will be available for selection at the weekend."
Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss believes New Zealand will be determined to re-establish Eden Park as a home fortress in their first run-out since they won the World Cup.
He said: "From the squad they picked it is going to be a fantastic series.
"We're playing the world champions - the best in the world bar none. We expect them to throw everything at us.
"Taking on the All Blacks at any time is a tough prospect.
"I know that they are very proud at what they have achieved in Eden Park.
"I know Australia have spoken up in recent times about going there and breaking that there but [New Zealand] just keep turning up at that ground and nailing it."
Of the 30-man All Blacks squad for the three-Test series, Kiss highlighted the talents of Chiefs number seven Sam Cane and Hurricanes winger Julien Savea.
"They are hugely physical and from watching the Super Rugby over here you can see that they throw [the ball] around so it will be an open affair," he said.