A MEDIA HORDE converged on an Irish Rugby open training session at Donnybrook yesterday after news emerged that Brian O’Driscoll would be out for up to three months.
Rory Best’s neck injury has ruled him out of the Guinness Series in November but most of the questions thrown Declan Kidney’s way were regarding his captain.
“We’ll miss him,” Kidney told the hastily assembled reporters. “We obviously missed him in last year’s Six Nations so we wish him God speed with his recovery.”
“You have to cherish the times that he does play,” the Irish coach added.
O’Driscoll revealed to TheScore.ie in September that missing the Six Nations earlier this season, as he recovered from surgery on a troublesome shoulder, had spurred him on in his 14th campaign for province and country.
The latest injury to afflict him is ankle ligament damage, with the IRFU stating that the influential centre will be out for ‘eight to 12 weeks’.
The Guinness Series is definitely out, as are the two Heineken Cup games against Clermont Auvergne, but Kidney feels O’Driscoll could be back in action by January. He said:
With Brian you often find that he is back at the earlier end (of the predicted lay-offs). Hopefully he’ll get back for a couple of Heineken Cup games in January before the Six Nations.”
It looks likely that Ireland will need to call in their second set of replacements 10 days before the first ball of the November series has been kicked.
The likely lads
Kidney often prefers to name-drop half the Irish players on professional contracts when he is asked about the selection or omission of certain individuals.
Asked about an immediate replacement for O’Driscoll from within the now 36-man squad, Kidney mentioned Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo.
He then added that Earls and Ulster’s Darren Cave may be a ‘good combination’.
Head coach Declan Kidney speaks to the media at Donnybrook. (©INPHO/Billy Stickland)
Referring, most likely, to the fullback slot, Kidney talked about Ian Madigan ‘learning his trade’ at Leinster, as well as the Munster pair of Felix Jones and Denis Hurley, and Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw.
“It may be a matter of this weekend in the Pro12 and giving them a run. The provinces have been mixing and matching lately,” he added.
The former Munster coach also spoke bout the Irish public ‘rowing in behind’ the squad this summer and players stepping up in the face of adversity.
With that the media turned on their heels and thought about deadlines.
Kidney was left to study his depleted troops and curse his luck.