Trimble and Dillane to miss Six Nations run-in
Meanwhile, Joe Schmidt must do without Andrew Trimble and Ultan Dillane on Friday
Ireland’s Andrew Trimble sustained a hand injury during Ulster’s Pro12 victory over Benetton Treviso on Friday. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho.
Trimble damaged a hand while playing for Ulster in their Guinness Pro12 game victory over Benetton Treviso and has been ruled out of Ireland’s final two matches in the tournament.
The 32-year-old wing broke a bone in his hand and will also miss the final Six Nations match against England at the Aviva Stadium.
He’s had something of a stop-start season because of injury problems, limping out of Ireland’s victory over Australia in the November Test series and then missing several Ulster matches.
He then sustained a groin injury that forced him to miss Ireland’s defeat against Scotland.
He was expected to return against Italy but wasn’t able to train fully that week and instead returned to the Irish match-day squad when starting on the bench against France.
There was better news for Schmidt arising from the Treviso match with Jared Payne playing a full 80 minutes and scoring a try as he confirmed his fitness following an extended spell on the side-lines with a lacerated kidney.
He had managed 20 minutes as a replacement on his return to competitive fare the previous weekend in the win over Zebre.
The New Zealand-born centre cum fullback is likely to contend for a place in the starting line-up against Wales. There was some speculation that it might be at fullback after Rob Kearney picked up a groin injury at the tail end of the victory over France but the Leinster man has responded well to treatment and according to an official update “is expected to train fully on Monday.”
However Schmidt is taking no chances as he has recalled Tommy Bowe to the extended squad. It suggests there must be a little concern that the damage could flare up under stress given the nature of the problem.
Payne has also been linked with a return to the walk-on team at outside centre, a position he played with some distinction prior to his injury. Garry Ringrose has proved a very capable deputy, his slashing breaks, regular ball carrying, good support lines and willingness to offload on occasion has given Ireland a slight different dimension in attack.
As of now Payne is the better defender – he’s also a brilliant footballer – and Schmidt must weigh up those considerations assuming that Kearney is passed fit to play.
Connacht secondrow Dillane will be out for eight to 10 weeks as he is set to undergo surgery for a persistent shoulder issue suggesting that his focus will be on playing a few games for Connacht before the league season ends and then travelling with Ireland to the USA and Japan during the summer.
The 23-year-old Dillane like Trimble has been unlucky this season with injuries. At the start of January he damaged an ankle and while it didn’t require an operation, it kept him out of rugby for three to four weeks.
The extended Ireland squad began their preparations for the Welsh game on Saturday without those who were playing Pro12 matches for Leinster and Munster, who joined up with the squad at Carton House on Sunday.