Henderson, Farrell and Beirne all available for Ireland in Rome

Robbie Henshaw also set to return after signing three-year contract extension

The news emanating from the Ireland camp was largely upbeat and positive ahead of Sunday's Six Nations Championship match against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico (3.0 Irish time).

Iain Henderson escaped a suspension, Chris Farrell (knee) and Tadhg Beirne (knee) were fit enough to train and Robbie Henshaw has signed a three-year contract extension.

Garry Ringrose (hamstring), Rhys Ruddock (hamstring) and Will Addison (lower back) are not available for selection as they continue to rehabilitate injuries at their respective provinces.

Ringrose missed the Scotland match with a hamstring strain he sustained against England and despite making good progress won't be risked and will instead spend a third week rehabilitating at Leinster.


Ruddock, who picked up a hamstring strain in training, is also under medical supervision with Leinster. Addison has a lower back issue and will continue to rehabilitate under the medical care of Ulster.

Henderson, playing his first match for Ulster following a finger injury sustained in a Champions Cup pool game against the Leicester Tigers on January 19th, was cited for an incident in the Guinness Pro14 game last Friday night in which he attempted to clear out Ospreys flanker Sam Cross at a ruck in the 14th minute.

The all-Scottish disciplinary committee comprising of Roddy Dunlop QC (Chair), Ian Douglas and Beth Dickens accepted that Henderson had been attempting a legitimate manoeuvre but was destabilised by another player.

The Ulster and Ireland secondrow, via a video link from Carton House, admitted that an act of foul play had occurred but the panel resolved that it merited a yellow card only and therefore the citing complaint was not upheld. Henderson is free to resume playing immediately.

Farrell was taken off as a precautionary measure early on in Munster's victory over the Southern Kings after suffering a bang on the knee but it has responded well to treatment. Beirne has recovered from a knee injury sustained in a European game against the Exeter Chiefs that precluded him from being considered for Ireland's opening two matches in the Six Nations.

Hamstring injury

Both players trained on Tuesday as part of a 34-man Irish squad but one notable absentee was Andrew Porter, who has been released back to Leinster to accumulate match minutes, by starting Friday night's Pro 14 game against the Southern Kings at the RDS (7.55).

Porter replaced Tadhg Furlong in both the England and Scotland matches but Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt would prefer to see the 23-year-old get more game time with Leinster the beneficiaries. As a result Munster tighthead John Ryan is likely to back up Furlong in Rome on Sunday.

Ireland centre Henshaw, who won the last of his 37 caps against England at fullback has recovered from a hamstring injury that forced him out of the win over the Scots and is available for selection for the Italian match. The IRFU confirmed that the 25-year-old had signed a new three-year union funded national contract that will take him up to June 2022.

Meanwhile Ireland's opponents on Sunday must do without Sergio Parisse after the number eight suffered a concussion in a French Top 14 match while playing for Stade Francais. The Italian Rugby Federation confirmed in a statement that he would remain with squad.

“The Azzurri captain, having undergone the second phase of neurological investigations following concussive trauma reported in the Top 14 match with Stade Francais, will continue to the return-to-play protocols according to current international regulations. The Italy captain will also remain with the squad.”

Scotland were also deprived of a key player in losing outhalf Finn Russell, who also suffered a concussion in Racing 92’s home defeat to Toulouse in the French Top 14 last weekend.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer