MICK KEARNEY’S INJURY updates often take up the first five minutes of his weekly press briefings at Carton House. Today, the list of casualties was brief but Ireland need as many of their top players available to tackle Australia and New Zealand.
Chris Henry’s hamstring tear is not as “slight” as Joe Schmidt would have hoped and his international involvement is over for 2013. Keith Earls’ patella tendinitis keeps him out of the Wallaby game and may yet rule him out of involvement against the All Blacks.
Jonathan Sexton is ready to train and eager to play but Paddy Jackson’s assured performance against Samoa has set him up as the Racing Métro out-half’s deputy. Thankfully, Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll and Sean O’Brien came through their weekend outings in good shape.
Tommy Bowe, however, is listed as day-to-day and is Ireland’s major worry ahead of Saturday’s game. Team manager Mick Kearney commented, “Bowe took a kick to his calf early in the game and was removed as a precaution. It is sore and bruised and though he is recovering he is unlikely to train today.”
Luke Fitzgerald was called up to train with the squad today [leapfrogging Andrew Trimble] but Shane Jennings, his Leinster teammate, is a permanent fixture after Henry was ruled out. With two higher ranked teams coming to town — New Zealand are first and Australia fourth — Schmidt has decided to go with what he knows. Leinster players are the go-to guys.
The two-try performance of Dave Kearney may put the winger in pole position to replace Bowe on the right. Henry would have been expected to drop to the bench, with O’Brien starting at openside. Kevin McLaughlin and Jennings will now fight it out for that role.
A prospective Ireland team, based on the current injury status of players, would contain 11 Leinster players with six on the replacements bench.
Possible Ireland XV to face Australia: R Kearney; D Kearney, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, F McFadden; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Ross; McCarthy, O’Connell (c); O’Mahony, O’Brien, Heaslip.
Replacements: Cronin, McGrath, Fitzpatrick, Toner, McLaughlin, Reddan, Jackson, Fitzgerald.
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