Ferris the latest Irish casualty
Rugby:Ireland’s Stephen Ferris has joined Paul O’Connell and the rest of the wounded on the sidelines for the autumn international series. The Ulster backrow has “significant ankle ligament damage”, according to team manager Mick Kearney, and will not feature against Argentina in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week.
His absence means Ireland have now lost six hugely influential players – along with captain Brian O’Driscoll, O’Connell, Rory Best, Rob Kearney and Seán O’Brien - for the entire series.
With Saturday’s meeting with Fiji at Thomond Park in mind, the news isn’t much better for scrumhalf Eoin Reddan, who is due to see a specialist this week to assess the damage to a bruised ankle.
Ulster’s Paul Marshall has been called in as cover to the Leinster halfback and could well feature in Limerick on Saturday.
There was positive news on lock Donnacha Ryan and prop Cian Healy, both of whom passed mandatory concussion tests after the 16-12 defeat to South Africa on Saturday, clearing them to train with the squad this week.
Vice-captain O’Connell was ruled out yesterday by coach Declan Kidney, his chronic back injury proving more problematic than had been hoped.
Ireland’s drop to eighth in the IRB world rankings after Saturday's was confirmed this morning by the IRB.
Kidney’s side threw away a nine-point halftime advantage over the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium and, coupled with Argentina’s impressive 26-12 win over Wales in Cardiff, it meant the two teams swapped places after the weekend’s rugby.
It would seem unlikely, however, that Ireland will drop out of the top eight and surrender their second-tier seeding for the World Cup this month, after Scotland remained ninth following their 51-22 defeat at home to the top-ranked All Blacks.
Depending on how they go against the Springboks on Saturday, and how the Pumas perform against France in Lille, the possibility remains that Ireland and Argentina might yet merely be scrapping over seventh and eighth when the two sides meet in Dublin on November 24th.
France’s resounding 33-6 win over Australia has moved them up into the top-tier of the World Cup seeding into fourth ahead of England and one adrift of the Wallabies, who have been overtaken by the Springboks.
The rankings, as of December 3rd, will determine the seeding for the 2015 World Cup groups, with the top 12 teams qualifying directly and the top four kept apart at the pool stage.
IRB World Rankings
1(1)NEW ZEALAND (92.91)
2(3)SOUTH AFRICA (85.50)
8(7) IRELAND (79.04)