IRELAND TEAM MANAGER Mick Kearney felt the need to summon the words of an ex-Taoiseach when looking down the long list of injured names at Carton House today.
After announcing that it was “too early to say” whether either of Brian O’Driscoll or Luke Marshall would be able to return against Italy this weekend and confirming at least three weeks out for Fergus McFadden, Kearney said:
“The injury thing has been absolutely extraordinary. I was only thinking yesterday, it reminded me a little of Charles Haughey’s famous quote: ”Grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented’ — it’s been a bit like that for the last number of weeks. Very unfortunate.
“I don’t think there is an underlying issue. the majority of the injuries have just been soft tissue, which can happen. I just think it’s been unfortunate – there’s no actual trend to it that you could look and say we’re doing something wrong.”
‘A good bet’
One reason for optimism heading into the final weekend of the championship is the return to fitness of Jonathan Sexton. The hamstring injury which forced him out of the 6-12 defeat to England has all but cleared up.
The out-half will train fully this week and backs coach Les Kiss says he is “a good bet” to start in the Stadio Olympico after two and a half games with Ronan O’Gara and Paddy Jackson in the pivot position.
“Paddy:” Kiss said, “we’ve been very happy with how he’s played the last two games and handled a lot thrown at him. He ‘s done exceptionally well.
“Mads [Ian Madigan]: Who would have thought he’d debut playing at 12 and at nine? He’s been great at training as well…
“Jonny’s got to prove his fitness yet, but everything is on track for him to be right for the game, so some one has got to miss out.”
Indeed, plenty already are, Donnacha Ryan is another senior player to be marked doubtful for what promises to be a battle royale in Italy. The Munster lock took a knock to his shoulder joint and will take part in ‘modified training.’
With Paul Marshall one of seven additions to the training squad, however, Kiss is maintaining a positive approach to the ‘GUBU’ hand Ireland are being dealt:
“When you go through the list, it’s amazing what is available. I’m excited about what kind of potential sits around at that next level. Obviously, there’s some experience they have to get, but that’s what the deal is.
“Looking back, you see area where they need to learn, but you also see what they bring. There is something very exciting about each group that has come in and filled the breach.”
-Additional reporting by Pat McCarry.