Following the announcement of the team to play Scotland, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell confirmed that Robbie Henshaw’s latest hamstring injury to set to rule him out for a minimum period of two weeks.
Henshaw’s bad run of luck with injuries during Rugby World Cups has unfortunately continued, and the Leinster centre may have played his last game of the current tournament in France.
A hamstring issue saw him pulled from the matchday 23 for Ireland’s opening win over Romania, and he injured his hamstring again during one of the squad’s final training sessions in Tours this week before their departure for Paris.
“He pulled up with a hamstring (issue) unfortunately at the end of the session on Tuesday and the diagnosis with hamstrings, they want to see how things settle down,” explained Farrell.
“It probably takes about five days for that type of thing to happen but it looks like it could be a minimum of a couple of weeks at this stage.”
Farrell’s full focus is on Saturday’s final Pool B clash with Scotland and ensuring that his team qualify for the quarter-finals, but he was asked if they will consider replacing Henshaw with an injury call-up.
“We’ll assess that as we go,” he replied. “Certainly he’ll be around, rehabbing and we’ll see how the weekend goes with other injuries, etc. We’ll assess how Robbie’s going along the way also.”
Frustratingly for the Athlone man, he has been here before. He missed the first two matches of Ireland’s 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign through injury, and a hamstring problem kept him out of the opening three games at the 2019 tournament before he returned to start against Samoa and New Zealand.
Henshaw had built up a lot of momentum through being ever-present in the 2021 Six Nations and playing every minute of the British & Irish Lions’ 2021 Test series against South Africa. He did likewise during Ireland’s unforgettable series win in New Zealand.
Last season was an injury-disrupted one for him, though, with hamstring problems and wrist surgery. He returned to make a try-scoring contribution in the Grand Slam decider against England, and two starts at outside centre before the World Cup had him ‘feeling fresh’.
The 30-year-old got half-an-hour off the bench against both Tonga and South Africa in recent weeks, making his presence felt against two big, physical sides. However, he is now back on Ireland’s injury list as the pool stages come to a close.
Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey will provide the midfield cover on Saturday night, eager to make his World Cup debut at the Stade de France cauldron.
The Ulster ace had a run of six successive starts for Ireland between last November and February, and lined out against Italy and Samoa in August, scoring his fourth international try during the home win over the Azzurri.
Farrell commented: “Stu has been excellent, as has everyone else that’s not played as much game-time as they’d possibly have wished for.
“His attitude has been top drawer. The message to those guys has been all along that you’ve got to be ready and your attitude has got to prove that day in, day out.
“It certainly has as far as everyone’s concerned. Stu is one of those who is ready to slot in and is ready to slot in.”
Meanwhile, Jack Conan also makes a welcome return to the replacements having recovered from his foot injury. Iain Henderson’s promotion to the starting XV, as one of two changes, means James Ryan, who had sustained a hand injury, is on bench duty.
“James is fit. He had a bit of a niggle on a wrist but that’s fine and he trained the house down, actually trained the best I’ve seen him in train in a good amount of years yesterday.
“He actually nearly took Johnny’s head off three or four times, so he’s fit and raring to go. There’s no doubt,” added Farrell.