O’Connell, O’Brien among eight ruled out of Ireland training
Concerns expressed by Irish management over Johnny Sexton’s workload in France
Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray arrive for Ireland training at Carton House. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry, as they say. Ideally Joe Schmidt would probably have liked to announce his captain this week but as a worrisome casualty list for the first day of this week’s get-together prior to the upcoming Guinness Series also includes Paul O’Connell, the Ireland coach may have to shelve those plans.
O’Connell was one of eight players ruled out of training yesterday, and amongst four or five players who will not train at all this week before being re-assessed when the squad returns to camp on Sunday in readiness for the Samoa game on Saturday week.
He pulled out of Munster’s win over Glasgow on Friday night with a grade one calf strain, and compounding this, by his own Superman-like standards, O’Connell hasn’t been tearing up trees in his three starts for Munster this season.
“The fact that Paul won’t train at all this week is a concern,” team manager Mick Kearney said yesterday. “We’re still very hopeful that he will be available for selection for the Samoa game . . . We should know an awful lot better by next Sunday.”
O’Connell’s injury profile, after missing all of Ireland’s games last season, also contrasts sharply with Jamie Heaslip’s remarkable durability and consistency, and, although O’Connell remains the favourite to be captain, it may make retaining Heaslip a more attractive proposition.
Reverting to Brian O’Driscoll, even though his return to training yesterday was about the only good news in the medical bulletin, is unlikely given he has played only one game this season and his stated intention is to play for only one more year. Loading Peter O’Mahony with the Irish captaincy at 24 on top of the Munster captaincy would surely be a case of overload.
As with O’Connell, Keith Earls (patella tendonitis) and Cian Healy (knee cartilage) are sidelined again this week and will be re-assessed when they come back into camp next Sunday. Seán O’Brien (ankle soreness and inflammation) won’t train until Thursday.
Robbie Henshaw (hip flexor strain) will be re-assessed pending the outcome of a scan yesterday, as will Declan Fitzpatrick (calf strain). Mike Ross (hamstring) ought to resume training today, while despite rolling his ankle in Ulster’s win over Cardiff, Rory Best was expected to train yesterday afternoon.
The squad will have an open session in the Aviva Stadium from 11.30am to 12.30 today, and will train again on Thursday and Friday before some players will be released back to their provinces. Andrew Trimble, Donncha O’Callaghan, Martin Moore and Roger Wilson were all called into the squad for training yesterday.