Kieran Marmion won his 24th cap in Ireland’s November win over New Zealand

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will be able to call upon scrum-half Kieran Marmion for the remainder of the Six Nations as he returns to action this weekend.

Marmion had ankle surgery a few days after Ireland’s historic win over the All Blacks and has not featured since.

He will play for Connacht in Saturday’s Pro14 game against the Cheetahs.

Ulster’s John Cooney was the back-up pivot to Conor Murray in Ireland’s opening two Six Nations games against England and Scotland.

Marmion started the November win over world champions New Zealand in absence of the injured Murray, and Schmidt is known to be a huge admirer of the 27-year-old.

Having the player fit and available again to push an out-of-sorts Murray is a huge boost ahead of the trip to Rome to face Italy on 23 February.

Connacht team-mates Bundee Aki and Quinn Roux have not been released from Irish camp but Ultan Dillane and the uncapped trio of Jack Carty, Caolin Blade and Tom Farrell are available to face the province’s South African opponents in Galway.

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