Ireland team manager Michael Kearney has confirmed that no players have been ruled out for next Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations showdown with France. Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien and Rory Best are all still in the frame to play.
Sean O’Brien, who was due to make his first Test appearance since November 2013 last Saturday, pulled up with a hamstring injury during the warm-up against Italy in Rome. Meanwhile, Rory Best was taken off with a head injury early in the second half and Jamie Heaslip is returning from the shoulder injury that saw him miss out on the Championship opener.
Speaking at the team hotel today, Michael Kearney explained: “Sean did an MRI scan last night which confirmed a hamstring strain on the minor end of the scale. He is feeling good and we are hopeful that he will train with the squad tomorrow.
“He will train with the squad tomorrow and if he comes through that, he will be available for selection. Whether that will happen or not, we will have to wait and see.”
Kearney said that Heaslip has trained well in camp and his provincial colleagues Cian Healy, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney, as well as out-half Jonathan Sexton, will also be back in the selection mix.
“Cian Healy trained fully last week, including some scrummaging which he came through very well and he is available for selection. Johnny Sexton is cleared to train fully and again he is available for selection.
“Johnny trained, doing everything for the last couple of weeks since the squad got together. He will train fully today and fully this week. He is fully cleared to train. Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney are fully recovered and will train this week.
“Jamie was pretty good last week. I think it was the fact he couldn’t train in the early part of the week – he didn’t do an awful lot on Monday or Tuesday, but trained pretty fully on Thursday. On another day maybe he would have been good to go but as you know with Joe (Schmidt), he does like to have the team training fully from very early in the week. But Jamie is top class and really good to go this week.”
There was also positive news regarding hooker Best who was replaced by Sean Cronin in the 48th minute against the Azzurri.
Asked whether a similar incident to the George North one from Wales’ opening round defeat to England might happen to an Irish player, Kearney stated that their positioning around the pitch saw them react quickly to Best’s concussion and take him off. The Ulster captain is now following the return-to-play protocols.
“Rory Best suffered concussion. He has been very well since the game and is completing a gradual return-to-play protocol. If he completes the protocol without any symptoms, he will be available for selection,” confirmed the Irish team manager.
“I know the Welsh medical team are stating they didn’t actually see the second knock that he (George North) took (against England). If you take them at their word there, it was obviously just a genuine error on their part.
“Certainly looking at the Irish medical team, the way it is set up, with a physio at the far side of the pitch and two medics on the near side, I would hope we wouldn’t miss something like that. In relation to Rory, the minute he got the knock, the medics went on to him and he was taken off straight away to do the head injury assessment which he failed.
“Post game he then did another test, pretty much straight afterwards which he came through really well. Certainly our medical team would be really, really diligent.
“But as regards the George North situation, I couldn’t second guess the Welsh medical team but they are saying they didn’t see the second knock he took even though it was very obvious to everyone that was watching on TV that he was pretty well knocked out cold.”