Jordi Murphy and the Irish management will have an anxious wait before ascertaining the extent of the damage he suffered in Ireland's 35-0 win Pool A win over Russia in Kobe. But the initial prognosis is not good as Joe Schmidt confirmed the flanker may have damaged his rib cartilage.
Murphy had been pitched into the game within four days of arriving as a late replacement for Jack Conan but was treated in the 22nd minute and seemed in severe pain before departing five minutes later.
“He’s just got squeezed in the ribs. He may have popped a rib there, so we’re going to get him checked out,” said the Irish head coach. “He was pretty uncomfortable and that was disappointing because out plan was only to play him for 40 minutes and keep CJ (Stander) fresh for 40 minutes as well. We’ll see what that comes back like.”
Ireland’s backrow resources are down to the bare bones with Tommy O’Donnell the only other loose forward who was in the original 45-man training squad at the start of pre-season.
If Murphy is ruled out, the Irish management could opt to call up Devin Toner and henceforth employ Tadhg Beirne as a backrower, but they look like the only two options given it's unlikely anyone who did not take part in the pre-season camps and warm-up matches would be considered.
Rob Kearney departed a little gingerly in the 50th minute but Schmidt said, "Rob is okay and again we sort of were going to give him 50 or 60, so making the change when we did – he just felt a little bit tight in the groin and we felt it was about time to take him off anyway."
Sexton played the first half only but seemed in no discomfort at all. Despite again applying ice to the quad which troubled him against Scotland and prevented him from playing in the defeat by Japan, pronounced himself “all good”, as apparently a 40 minute run-out had been the plan going into the game.
Schmidt also described Joey Carbery as "good" but having been named on the bench as cover at scrum-half, ultimately he was ruled out with what the coach described as "a bit of ankle soreness after the captain's run", the latest of several mishaps to afflict him.