IRELAND LOOK READY to hand Ulster centre Luke Marshall his international debut at Murrayfield this Sunday after the 21-year-old overcame the dead legs he suffered in Friday’s Pro12 win over Zebre.
During his extensive injury update, team manager Mick Kearney said that the uncapped centre, “suffered a dead leg on Friday night, he worked on it very hard over the weekend, recovered really well and trained fully this morning, so there are no concerns about Luke.”
With Gordon D’Arcy ruled out with a stress fracture in his foot suffered during the 6-12 home defeat to England, and Fergus McFadden seemingly out of favour in midfield, the news of his fitness makes Marshall a straightforward choice to fill in at inside centre.
Certainly, backs coach Les Kiss (though stressing no decision has been made yet) is willing to trust in the untested Ballymena man.
“I think Lukey’s done a really good job all year.” Kiss said at Carton House today.
“We backed him in November to come in and be a part of our squad. He handled himself incredibly well. He’s in the picture right here and now and he’s probably bigger than ever now that D’Arcy isn’t around.
“Calculated risk?” The Kiwi added, “I’d like to say that he has been around, he’s done some good things, he has played in some really strong high-level games and we’ll back him.
“Will he be perfect? No, but what player is ever perfect. Do we wait until a player is absolutely perfect before we play him? I don’t see it that way.
“There will be parts you’ll say will be better, there’ll be parts you’ll say are great now. But if he’s the guy we select we’ll back him fully and he’ll do a job for us.”
While Marshall’s recovery was a positive from the injury report, there was less encouraging news on his Ulster team-mate Chris Henry. The flanker, ruled out for four weeks, will undergo surgery on a knee issue tomorrow. Mike McCarthy’s Six Nations also looks to be over. The Connacht lock suffered knee ligament damage and will be in a brace for four weeks.
Kearney is hopeful that McCarthy’s second row partner, Donnacha Ryan, will be fit enough to face Scotland after only taking a small part in training today. However, the medical team will closely monitor the Munster second row.
There was more assurance around the well-being of Brian O’Driscoll and Sean O’Brien – both of whom struggled through the defeat to England. Both men played a full part in training and will expected to be in their strongest positions when the team is announced tomorrow.