Pearse Hanley, Enda Smith and Niall Murphy unlikely to play full part
Joe Kernan: ‘A few boys have a bug - hopefully it will stay at that and no more get it’
Pearse Hanley is a key member of the Irish squad who play in Adelaide on Sunday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Ireland manager Joe Kernan has conceded that although the three players struck down with stomach bugs are feeling a bit better they are unlikely to be able to play a full part in Sunday’s Test in Adelaide.
News of the illness only emerged late on Thursday night in a BBC interview with team physiotherapist Enda McGinley. At a training session, cut short because of the heat, in Adelaide’s St Mary’s Park the Ireland manager delivered an update on the health of the three;
“A few boys have a bug - hopefully it will stay at that and no more get it. All the rest are fighting fit and raring to go. We cut the session down a bit because of the heat.
“It’s one of these things that happen - we have the doctor and a good medical team there so the lads are feeling a bit better this morning and hopefully by Sunday they will be available to play at some stage.
“We have the boys away in rooms on their own - the doctors are with them. Everyone’s using their own water bottles. We’re doing all we can to make sure it doesn’t spread.
“It hit them yesterday: one with a headache, another shivering, one with the runs. The three of them got a good night’s sleep, which is great. Hopefully everything stays down today. They will get plenty fluids into them so hopefully they will be ok.
“The bottom line is they may not play the major part of the game.”
Losing three players - there are no travelling reserves - entails not just the loss of the players but also undermines the reinforcement value of the interchange bench - something that Kernan believes could be significant in 30-degree heat.
“You can say it’s a setback but it’s just one these things that happen. The rest are okay, if we can get the three lads back, it’s a bonus; if not, we have 20 men who are well able to go out and do the job. The Aussies only have 21 but the extra few lads could be vital in a match with that heat.”
Any restriction in numbers would also make interchange policy all the more important. Kernan and his management team will be using an App to regulate the comings and goings but he pointed out that there are different reasons for replacing players and the importance of versatility.
“We have a wee system put in place. One you have to check who needs a breather; two you have to check who has a problem in an area like you’d get in normal Gaelic football - if you have to make a switch. We have a good selection of boys who can play in a lot of positions. You have to be well able to defend or go forward.”