Ireland’s Iain Henderson to miss All Blacks Test in Chicago
Ulster forward facing up to a month out with Earls likely to miss November Tests
Iain Henderson will miss Ireland’s Test match against New Zealand in Chicago after injuring his knee in Ulster’s win over Exeter. Photograph: Inpho
Iain Henderson will miss Ireland’s test against New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday week after sustaining a shoulder injury in Ulster’s 19-18 Champions Cup victory over the Exeter Chiefs on Saturday night. The projected recovery period is two to four weeks.
Henderson was withdrawn at half-time in Belfast and at a press briefing on Tuesday lunch-time Ulster coach Les Kiss confirmed a two to four week recovery period for the secondrow-cum-flanker. Realistically Henderson will need to play a Pro12 match against Edinburgh on Friday, November 4th, if he is to have game time ahead of Ireland’s three test series in November.
Joe Schmidt’s men play Canada (November 12th), New Zealand (November 19th) and Australia (November 26th) and if Henderson does not play against Edinburgh, he won’t have had a game for three weeks by the time the Canadian match takes place. This is predicated on the shoulder issue being at the lower end of the rehabilitation scale, and if it takes longer then he could miss all three November Tests.
Ireland are also likely to be without Munster’s Keith Earls for the autumn internationals, following his red card during the province’s victory over Glasgow Warriors last weekend.
Earls was dismissed by Jerome Garces for a tackle on Fraser Brown and will face a disciplinary committee in London on Wednesday, with the minimum sanction starting at four weeks.
This would mean Earls would be banned for the fixtures against Canada and New Zealand, and would have no chance to feature before the Australian Test on November 26th.
Meanwhile the collateral damage from Ulster’s win last weekend has been significant, leaving them with something of an injury crisis at secondrow and tighthead prop ahead of Friday night’s game against Munster at the Kingspan stadium.
Tightheads Rodney Ah You (knee) and Ross Kane (mouth laceration) were both forced off against the Chiefs. Indeed Ah You had to return having been replaced by Kane and soldier on until the 77th minute when he was eventually called ashore. Andrew Warwick can play both sides of the frontrow, and may be forced into action there as he was for the last three minutes of the Chiefs’ match.
South African Wiehahn Herbst played his first 40-minutes after nine months out through injury in a British & Irish Cup match for Ulster A last weekend and could start against Munster. Secondrow Pete Browne and his replacement against Exeter, Alan O’Connor, both suffered concussions in the match, and are out of Friday’s game while Kieran Treadwell (ankle) who played in the A match is doubtful.
Irish international Robbie Diack has recovered from injury so he may be co-opted into an occasional role as a secondrow. Another option is Dan Tuohy (hip) provided he shrugs off a hip problem that forced him off in the Ulster A defeat.
Stuart Olding (hip flexor) is doubtful and the fact that he is a candidate for selection for the Ireland team to play the All Blacks in Chicago - that squad is due to be announced on Wednesday afternoon - suggests he won’t be risked in a Pro12 game. Ulster may also have to do without Ireland captain, Rory Best, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne under the national player management programme.
Luke Marshall, who started two of Ireland’s three tests in the summer tour to South Africa, is nursing a knee injury but the Ulster medical team is hopeful that he might be available for the Munster match. Definitely back in the mix for selection is another international centre Darren Cave. Jacob Stockdale and Rob Lyttle are likely to feature.
Munster’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will be able to clarify the Ireland players available to him on Wednesday afternoon for the trip to Belfast. Peter O’Mahony has appeared in Munster’s last four matches in a graduated return following a year-long battle with injury playing 180 minutes during that timeframe. CJ Stander, Conor Murray and possibly Simon Zebo could be rested.