KEITH EARLS has been ruled out of Saturday’s Guinness Series opener against Samoa, but Ireland coach Joe Schmidt expects to have Lions Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy and Rory Best available.
Manager Mick Kearney confirmed reports in France that Jonathan Sexton had a slight tightness in his hip when travelling to France on Thursday, but said he would be fine to play on Saturday.
The Munster back has patella tendonitis and was a late withdrawal from the Munster side to face Glasgow 11 days ago. His absence could afford Dave Kearney an opportunity to make his international debut against the South Sea Islanders at the Aviva Stadium.
While his injury is a blow to Schmidt’s plans for the November internationals, the New Zealander will be heartened by the news that O’Connell and O’Brien will return to training tomorrow.
If he comes through it, the Munster and Ireland legend is in line to be named captain on Thursday.
“Thankfully the injury list is a bit shorter than it was last week,” Ireland manager Mick Kearney said at Carton House this lunchtime.
“Keith Earls won’t be available for selection this week, Robbie Henshaw has completed his rehab today and all going well should be back in full training by tomorrow. CIan Healy has recovered well and trains fully this afternoon. Paul O’Connell has made good progress in his recovery and is expected to train fully tomorrow. Sean O’Brien has also made good progress and is expected to train fully tomorrow too.
“All the other concerns from last week have cleared up, ie: Mike Ross, Declan Fitzpatrick and Rory Best who all trained at the end of last week.”