Doubts remain over Paul O’Connell’s fitness
Lock resumed training after a calf strain, but Jonathan Sexton sat out session at Carton House
Ireland lock Paul O’Connell resumed training with the squad at Carton House today. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Paul O’Connell’s availability for Saturday evening’s Samoa game, and by association the Irish captaincy, remains clouded in doubt as the 34 year old has yet to fully train following a calf strain.
O’Connell pulled up during the warm-up before Munster’s victory in Glasgow on October 25th and only resumed running today.
The same medical report has been given for Seán O’Brien after he recently “rolled” his ankle.
“Paul O’Connell and Seán O’Brien have been struggling a little bit but they both ran today,” said new Irish forwards coach John Plumtree.
It appears O’Brien will recover but when asked if O’Connell could play a full Test match tomorrow, Plumtree responded: “That would be a medical decision ...today was the first time he trained but whether he can do 80 or not I’m not sure.
“We’ll think about it and see what we do.”
Plumtree was also asked how important it is to get O’Connell on to the pitch for Joe Schmidt’s first outing as Ireland coach.
“He’s our most experienced lock, and he has been the glue in that pack for a while so he is important and enthusiastic and still loves playing for Ireland, so he is important.”
“Today was (Brian’s) first real training with the team and he went through alright. He looked good.”
Schmidt will announce the Ireland starting XV and captain on Thursday.
Plumtree expects a stern challenge from a Samoan team that no longer relies on cameos from their best players.
“In the past Samoa have relied on a lot of individuals but I was in South Africa when they played recently and they play as a team now.
“Actually, they were training at my sons’ school so when I went down to pick them up, I wasn’t spying or anything, didn’t realise it was going to happen, but their training was well organised.
“They are a real threat now because they play as a team.”
Samoa only gathered as a squad in Dublin earlier this week. They are staying at Ireland’s old base, Killiney Castle, and are expected to train at Blackrock RFC’s Stradbrook pitch.