Ireland hooker Rory Best aiming to return against Wallabies

Joe Schmidt certain to rotate squad ahead of encounter with Georgia

 

The Irish management will give a medical update on the injured Jared Payne, Rory Best and Chris Henry today, although the likelihood is that none of the trio will be involved in any case next Sunday against Georgia. The hope is that both Payne and Best will be available to face Australia on Saturday week.

A scan on Payne’s sprained foot in the Aviva Stadium immediately after the game revealed nothing untoward but the Irish management were awaiting the outcome of a further scan last night as the squad re-assembled at their Carton House hotel base.

Best was ruled out of the win over South Africa with a calf strain but the expectation at the time was that the Ulster captain would be fit for the last of the Guinness Series against Australia.

Henry was undergoing further medical assessment after he became unwell early on the morning of the match with a virus.

Mindful of the Australian game coming six days after the Georgia match, Joe Schmidt is planning to utilise his squad by rotating several players, all the more so given that all but one of the Georgian pack are drawn from Top 14 or Premiership clubs – if not any of their backline. With the tight turnaround from Georgia to Australia, there’ll be a few changes but there’ll be some continuity as well.

Georgia remain 15th in the world rankings after losing 22-9 in Tbilisi on Saturday to their World Cup pool opponents Tonga, who are ranked two places above them.

Their side featured only three changes from the starting XV that beat Romania 22-9 earlier in the year to complete their fourth European Nations Cup win in succession and a place at next year’s World Cup.

Bad-tempered

The Sale hooker Shalva Mamukashvili and the experienced Montpellier number eight Giorgi Chkhaidze came into the side, as did the home-based flanker Giga Tkhilaishvili, in what was seemingly a fractious, bad-tempered affair which Georgia led by 6-3 at half-time, before Tonga pulled clear with three tries.

With England losing at home to New Zealand, the main movers in the world rankings were Australia, who returned to third above England after beating Wales, while France moved up to sixth.

Ireland would have gone third for the first time since November 2006 but for JP Pietersen’s late try and so stay fifth in the rankings after their 29-15 victory over the Springboks, which sparked a surge in ticket sales for next Sunday’s game.

With tickets starting at €20 for adults and €5 for children, an additional 1,800 tickets were sold by Sunday morning, taking official sales to around 37,000 (many thousands would have been bought as part of three-match packages for this month’s trio of games).

For supporters who don’t have a ticket for the sold-out Australia game or the sold-out Six Nations matches against France and England, this will be the last opportunity to see the Irish team play at home before the World Cup warm-up matches.

Medical procedures

Pat HowardMunster

Howard made his Western Province Currie Cup debut against Free State Cheetahs in August 2012 and has made 11 appearances in the competition, and on Sunday played the first hour for the recently crowned Currie Cup champions against Saracens in a challenge game at Allianz Park in London.

“With players ruled out due to injury and a few other niggles, we want to make sure we have a full spread available to us before we enter the next crucial period and Howard can provide that additional support,” Foley said.

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