Ireland take stock after bad weekend on the injury front as Healy is cited
Ireland prop Cian Healy after coming off during the Six Nations Championship defeat to England on Sunday at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. photograph: inpho
Ulster are optimistic that although Paddy Jackson is doubtful for this week’s match against Italian franchise Zebra in the Pro 12 League, he will be fit enough to return to the Ireland squad next week and make a bid to back up Ronan O’Gara in Ireland’s Six Nations game against Scotland.
Following injury to Johnny Sexton against England on Sunday, Irish coach Declan Kidney must chose back-up for the Irish 10 position. Those playing at outhalf in the provinces are Jackson, Leinster’s Ian Madigan, whose kicking last week against Cardiff was 100 per cent accurate with 16 points from Leinster’s 26-point total, and Ian Keatly in Munster.
Jackson took a knock to his ankle and suffered a re-occurrence of an injury playing for the Irish Wolfhounds in their match against Wales in Galway. He was rested last week and is doubtful to play at the weekend.
“Ireland sent him back to rehab in the province, when he took a knock on his ankle,” said an Ulster official. “This week we’re not sure if he’ll make it but we do expect him to report back to Ireland next week.”
The news comes on the back of a horrendous weekend of injury for the Irish team as well as the citing of Irish loosehead prop Cian Healy. The case against Healy will be heard tomorrow in London and comes as Ireland continue to count the cost of their match against England with several other members of the squad requiring further medical assessment.
While Sexton and Simon Zebo have captured the lions share of attention, Kidney may also fret about his secondrow options. Mike McCarthy also picked up a strain to the medial ligament in his right knee and is considered doubtful for the match against Scotland in Murrayfield but will see a specialist this week for further review, while his partner on Sunday, Donnacha Ryan (back), will also see a specialist this week for further assessment. Ryan is less of a worry than McCarthy but given the current canvas, the fact that both secondrows are being examined is a further concern.
Sexton damaged his hamstring in the first half of the match with a subsequent scan confirming the injury as a strain, which also makes him doubtful for Ireland’s third match of the championship in just under two weeks.
The Irish outhalf was unable to walk from the pitch unaided and could be out for longer than two weeks.
Winger Zebo is definitely ruled out for the remainder of the championship after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He underwent surgery on the injury yesterday with an expected eight to 10 week recovery period.
Brian O’Driscoll has also to have his right ankle reappraised. The outside centre has injured both ankles over the last few months. Fullback Rob Kearney is recovering well after suffering a dead leg, while flanker, Seán O’Brien came off with a tight hamstring and will be monitored throughout the week.
Healy has been cited by the independent Citing Commissioner, Alberto Recaldini (Italy), for stamping on an opponent. The incident happened in the 13th minute following an Irish lineout that developed into a maul.
The maul collapsed with England tighthead prop Dan Cole on the wrong side and obstructing Conor Murray’s attempts to get the ball back into play. The Irish loosehead prop was seen to step into the breakdown area with the incident generating a short-lived bout of pulling and pushing.
The alleged act of foul play is contrary to Law 10.4 (b). The player’s hearing will be decided by an independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee.
Meanwhile, Ulster Rugby has announced Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb and Seán Doyle have signed contract extensions. Secondrow Stevenson will stay at Ulster until at least the summer of 2016.
His fellow lock Neil McComb will remain until June 2015 with backrow forward Seán Doyle staying until the end of the 2013/2014 season.