Tommy O’Donnell’s injury clouds Cardiff win
Ireland muddied its selection waters whereas disjointed Welsh clarified theirs
Ireland’s Tommy O’Donnell had his World Cup dreams shattered against Wales. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
The roof closed out the sunshine and in addition a cloud hung over Ireland’s otherwise encouraging start to their World Cup preparations in Saturday’s 35-21 win over Wales in Cardiff. Tommy O’Donnell had played himself into contention with a storming performance until the 75th minute when he suffered what, sadly, looked like a serious hip injury.
He was detained overnight in Cardiff hospital and the full extent of the injury will be made known today. You’d hope against hope for such a quality player – and lad – but it would appear that another Irish World Cup dream has been shattered, à la Geordan Murphy twelve years ago and both Felix Jones and David Wallace four years ago – when the latter suffered a career-ending knee injury in the final warm-up game against England. The full-back curse has been passed on to Munster opensides.
Such was the scale of O’Donnell’s all-action performance – aside from the high tackle and ball-carrying counts, as Jamie Heaslip noted “it seemed like every loose ball he was hovering up” – that he had been strongly playing himself into contention.
In the context of Saturday’s performances influencing squad selection, Joe Schmidt said: “People change my mind when I’ve had a really good look at the footage. I get an impression of how guys are going and obviously with Tommy, I don’t know how accurate it is but I’d say he made 14/15 tackles, and maybe four or maybe five turnovers. I do know a couple of penalties went against him when he did start to fatigue.”
Pending the review with the other coaches, he added: “I think there were a few guys who confirmed to me they are hoping to make my decisions difficult and that is exactly what you want.”
Indeed, Ireland’s performance muddied its selection waters whereas the disjointed Welsh effort probably clarified theirs prior to both coaches whittling down their squads to 38 or 39 this week.
“We won’t be putting out a new fifteen,” Schmidt said of next Saturday’s game at home to Scotland. “There will be guys who double up and it may be that the guys who double up will come from the bench to the starting line-up and maybe there will be a couple who get out there and start again. There are some guys who if we feel like we need to see a bit more of them next week, that we have tried to keep it pretty fluid.”
“If Tommy made 14 or 15 tackles, then Keith was right there with him and he made those tackles on some big carriers, the likes of Moriarty - big strong men who are difficult to contain. I thought Keith went well.”