Ireland left wounded as French earn Six Nations draw at Aviva
Eoin Reddan and Fergus McFadden ruled out of trip to Italy
Keith Earls is denied a try in the final minutes of Saturday’s Six Nations game at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Eoin Reddan will undergo surgery on a broken ankle and damaged ligaments today while Fergus McFadden has also been ruled out with fractured ribs, while Donnacha Ryan's bruised A/C joint is a source of concern. Luke Marshall and Brian O’Driscoll (possible concussion) have only a week to satisfactorily complete the return to play protocol, and even O’Driscoll’s remarkably high pain threshold will be further tested by a dead leg and a cut ear.
The presence of his wife Amy and four-week-old baby girl Sadie was possibly an indicator that this was his last home game, as was his insistence on coming back on with his head bandaged. Beyond brave to the end, though then again nothing new there.
Conor Murray (knee) and Peter O’Mahony (dead leg) should be okay, all of which prompted Declan Kidney to quip “everybody else is fine”.
This is just as well as in addition to Gordon D'Arcy, the midfield resources are further depleted by Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace and Dave McSharry also being hors de combat, while Isaac Boss has fitness issues too and Paul Marshall has had little game time with Ulster.
Back in contention
Of the ten players sidelined for last Saturday’s latest bruiser, Craig Gilroy should come back into contention as might Jonathan Sexton and Declan Fitzpatrick. In the circumstances, Ireland are unlikely to do much work today or tomorrow, and will delay their team announcement by 48 hours to Thursday.
Of some consolation is that Italy have a six-day turnaround after their 18-11 defeat at Twickenham yesterday, but the way the Azzurri were pushing hard for an improbable draw to derail England’s Grand Slam bid underlined the magnitude of Ireland’s task.
Martin Castrogiovanni went off early with a hamstring injury, but as with Alberto de Marchi replacing the other veteran prop, Andreo lo Cicero from the off, the arrival of Lorenzo Cittadini only revived the Italian scrum and the rest of their performance. They’ll be targeting a first championship win over Ireland in Saturday’s 72,000 sell-out, and with good reason.
Victory for Wales over England in the Millennium Stadium by eight points would see them take the title on points difference, though in all likelihood a seven-point winning margin would suffice as they have scored seven tries to England’s five.
For their part, Ireland can still finish anywhere from third to sixth, and although the Six Nations do not divulge the breakdown of their estimated ¤13.7million prize fund, third compared to sixth could equate to a difference of almost ¤2 million.
“That’s not where you want to be but there’s that much to play for,” said Kidney.
“If nothing else, it will be another chance to play for Ireland and there will be some fellas who will get the chance that might have not got a chance so far and that will be a huge day for them but I’m sure the Italians will be licking their lips to have us in Rome. If you think that Italy beat France, it’s going to be another huge challenge for us.”