12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Saturday's RBS 6 Nations defeat of Scotland has had little effect on Ireland's positioning in the IRB World Rankings. Eddie O'Sullivan's side remains in sixth place.
The latest Rankings, released today, show no changes in the top 10 after week four of the 2006 RBS 6 Nations Championship. Italy's 18-all draw with Wales - the Azzurri's first 'away' point since joining the Championship in 2000 - has pushed them ahead of Fiji into 11th (73.28 Rating Points).
Fifth-placed England's 31-6 loss at the hands of France has seen the reigning World Champions go from 82.74 Ratings Points down to 81.95. Ireland gained 0.3 points for their 15-9 victory over the Scots, pushing them up to 81.38 and in sight of Andy Robinson's English outfit - their final opponents of the '06 Championship next Saturday (Twickenham, kick-off 5.30pm).
This time last year, O'Sullivan's charges were ranked fifth (82.90) in the world going into the Championship decider with Grand Slam winners-elect Wales.
OFFICIAL IRB WORLD RANKINGS: (AS OF MARCH 13)
(1) NEW ZEALAND 93.32 RATING POINTS
(2) SOUTH AFRICA 88.76
(3) FRANCE 85.24
(4) AUSTRALIA 83.93
(5) ENGLAND 81.95
(6) IRELAND 81.38
(7) WALES 79.35
(8) SCOTLAND 76.74
(9) ARGENTINA 75.16
(10) SAMOA 73.97