Horgan ruled out of Paris match


Shane Horgan is out of the Ireland team to play France in the Six Nations Championship at Stade de France on Sunday (2.0). The Lansdowne centre damaged a knee while playing for his club against Dungannon last Saturday, forcing him to quit at half-time.

The prognosis at the time appeared grim as knee cartilage damage was suspected, but the young Irish player was sent for a scan on Monday. He received the results yesterday and the good news was that he had suffered neither ligament nor cartilage damage.

However there was severe bruising and as Ireland team manager Donal Lenihan explained, the Irish team management were unwilling to risk the young player.

"There is a good chance that Shane will be able to play for Lansdowne on Saturday week and therefore be available for selection for the Welsh game.

"If we had risked him for Sunday, we could have made the problem worse and sidelined him for a greater length of time. This way, he should be available to play against Wales."

The injury obviously represents a disappointing blow to the versatile Horgan, who had managed three tries in his first two Test matches.

His withdrawal is likely to mean Bath's Kevin Maggs will be named on the left wing with Denis Hickie moving across to the right when the team is announced at lunch-time today.

Last Saturday, Maggs successfully proved his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury sustained in the opening Six Nations match against England at Twickenham, when Ireland's assistant coach Eddie O'Sullivan travelled to the Stoop and saw him produce a try-scoring performance in Bath's rout of London Irish. He is now likely to take his place on the left wing.

Irish coach Warren Gatland confirmed that no new player would be added to the squad, now reduced to 22, and this removes the need to reduce the squad by one, a procedure that would have taken place prior to Horgan's withdrawal.

Lenihan confirmed that all bar openside flanker Kieron Dawson took part in yesterday's training session. The London Irish player is nursing a bruised hip and was advised to rest. He is expected to train today, albeit without any contact work until tomorrow. Shannon prop John Hayes, who twisted his knee, prior to the Terenure game last Saturday, enjoyed limited participation yesterday. He completed all the running, but none of the contact work: he is expected to redress the latter aspect today. The Irish management is not concerned about either player, expecting both to be fit. Captain Keith Wood, also inactive last weekend, has recovered well from a thigh problem.

On yesterday's session, Gatland offered: "We concentrated on rucking and organisation," before adding that while there were no tears with regard to France's mounting injury crisis, "they (France) have so much depth and quality. Their only problem may be organisation."

Meanwhile, there was mixed news for Ireland A coach Declan Kidney. Cork Constitution second row Mick O'Driscoll was forced out with a knee injury and was replaced by Ballymena lock Mark Blair. There was better news in the form of Dion O'Cuinneagain's recovery from a groin strain and the fact that centre John Kelly, who did not play for Cork Constitution at the weekend, took part in yesterday's session.

Left wing Tyrone Howe also went through his paces without any problem. The vacancy in the squad will be filled by Jan Cunningham, whose versatility edges him past former international Matt Mostyn.

France's backline injury worries deepened yesterday when it was revealed that fullback Thomas Castaignede is doubtful for Sunday's match. The inspirational Castres player has been ordered to rest for three days after tearing a muscle in his right thigh and will take no part in training sessions ahead of the match.

Coach Bernard Laporte said Castaignede's possible withdrawal from an already depleted back line would be a major setback. France have already lost the services of nine players who played in the opening Six Nations match against Wales in Cardiff.

But there was some good news on the injury front. Hooker Marc Dal Maso and lock Olivier Brouzet, who were both nursing minor knocks, should be fit for Sunday.