Joe Schmidt counts the cost of win with bigger battles looming

Irish coach believes Garry Ringrose return against Wales ‘will be a tough call’

Ireland head coach speaks to the media as his team make it two wins from two in the 2018 Six Nations with a 56-19 win over Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

 

The usual tale: one man goes down in agony, another barely recovers to fill the gap. With Robbie Henshaw all but ruled out of this Six Nations, Garry Ringrose is on course to return, following his third surgery since July (ankle and both shoulders), to face Wales on Saturday week in Dublin.

“Garry is making really good progress but next weekend might be one weekend too soon but he is not far away,” said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt of the Leinster game against the Scarlets at the RDS.

“For him to come back off an injury lay-off and play straight against Wales, that will be a tough call. But it’s a call based on Garry’s contributions and other times he has played – he was superb on the summer tour [in New Jersey and Japan] – and he’s such an intelligent player that he adds value when he does come into the side.

“That is one of the alternatives if Robbie, as we suspect, will be unavailable.”

Chris Farrell is the other, the Munster centre having excelled in the 13 jersey against Argentina in November, with Keith Earls not expected to be moved off the wing. Jared Payne still has head issues and has been named temporary defence coach in Ulster.

The loss of two-try Henshaw will resonate: “He has been top class. A huge leader for us.”

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The Ireland injury report was thus: Henshaw – no information, despite what appeared a dislocated shoulder, requiring oxygen on the field, as he needs a “scan tomorrow” before a Monday update.

Tadhg Furlong’s hamstring injury was also played down with the coach joking that “for a tighthead prop he probably moves a litter quicker than he should, as a result he felt a bit of tightening but we would be hopeful.”

Furlong lasted only four minutes of this 56-19 destruction of Conor O’Shea’s Italy but this at least gave Andrew Porter the most time on a pitch since he played AIL for UCD last season.

“I hope we can get Tadhg up to speed in Athlone [training camp] so he is ready to fully train the week after.”

Jack Conan was replaced at half-time with a “dunt on the shoulder but we hope that will settle over the next week.”

“Seán O’Brien is trucking along [hip], Josh van der Flier is gone [knee], Sean Reidy came off injured playing for Ulster last night so Jack O’Donoghue joined up with the squad last week.”

All that matters, for now, is Ireland sit on top of the Six Nations pile after two rounds.

“If you said nine point after two games beforehand I would have bitten your hand off but we would love to have 13 points from three games.”

Not 14 points, not greedy.

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