Greg Feek short on props for Ireland

Scrum coach still sees the positives despite injuries before November Tests

There was a touch of gallows humour in the manner in which Greg Feek borrowed a friend's description to sum up a glut of injuries suggesting that "at the moment, it can be a death warrant for a coach". Ireland's scrum guru would have a certain empathy with the observation.

As Ireland attempt to lay the foundations for a November Test series that includes internationals against South Africa, Georgia and Australia, coach Joe Schmidt and his backroom team might have to find new cornerstone or two – a robust collective noun for props – to lock down the Irish pack.

Cian Healy and Martin Moore are sidelined through injury. James Cronin, who won his first cap in Argentina during the summer, damaged an ankle last weekend and must see a specialist.

Treatment table

Mike Ross missed Leinster's two European matches because of a groin issue – the official line at Carton House yesterday was that he will train next week – so is short on recent game time.

Stephen Archer was forced to write off a portion of last season because of injury while Declan Fitzpatrick has only just climbed down from the treatment table.

The silver lining in the cloudy outlook on the propping front was the confirmation that Jack McGrath’s arm issue didn’t prevent him from taking a full part in training.

One player's misfortune is another's opportunity and that certainly applies in the case of one of the squad's most recent additions, Nathan White. Feek explained: "He's got a lot of knowledge on a lot of the South Hemisphere guys. He brings a massive work rate, that's one of our pre-requisites to have guys there that work their butts off and Nathan White does that at scrum time and around the paddock. His tackle stats are up there and Les [Kiss] has been impressed. He doesn't talk too much, he just gets on with it."

Feek also pointed out that up until a couple of months ago, the perception would have been a dearth of hookers due to injury, but pointed out that while Damien Varley and Mike Sherry were struck down, Duncan Casey came through in a very positive manner.

Ireland's backline resources have been depleted somewhat. Gordon D'Arcy, who damaged a groin in Leinster's victory over Castres and had to be replaced during the match "has been assessed and will be managed over the coming days," while Rob Kearney is expected to train fully next week according to the official communiqué.

Ulster duo Stuart Olding and Tommy Bowe "will be managed through the return to play protocols following concussive injuries sustained at the weekend," during Ulster's European Rugby Champions Cup defeat to Toulon at Kingspan Stadium.

The Ireland squad will reconvene in Carton House on Sunday ahead of Saturday week’s game against the Springboks at the Aviva.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer

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