Sunday 4 December 2016

Joe Schmidt sweats on injuries as Henderson set for recall

Published 24/11/2016 | 02:30

Ireland's Iain Henderson is in line for a starting place against Australia. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Iain Henderson is in line for a starting place against Australia. Photo: Sportsfile

Joe Schmidt will see how CJ Stander and Rob Kearney come through training at Carton House this morning before naming his team to face Australia.

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With Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw ruled out with injury, the head coach will be keen to keep as many combinations as possible intact for the final game of the November series against Michael Cheika's Wallabies.

Stander and Kearney are both going through the return-to-play protocols after failing Head Injury Assessments last weekend but they are on track to be named if they come through the session.

Such is his confidence in Stander's recovery, Schmidt has released Peter O'Mahony to Munster and the captain is likely to lead his team against Treviso on Saturday.

Paddy Jackson will come in for Sexton, with Garry Ringrose and Luke Marshall battling to replace Henshaw. Marshall may edge that duel given his relationship with Jackson and Jared Payne at Ulster.

If Kearney fails to make it, Schmidt could shift Simon Zebo to full-back and call Keith Earls into the starting XV, while Tiernan O'Halloran is another option for the No 15 shirt.

Up front, Iain Henderson is set to be promoted from the bench in place of Donnacha Ryan who is in a battle with Ultan Dillane for a place on the bench. Captain Rory Best will win his 100th cap, with Tadhg Furlong hoping to reprise his All Black heroics. Schmidt could be tempted to rotate Jack McGrath and start Cian Healy to freshen up his tight five further.

Australia coach Cheika is likely to recall a number of his stars after resting them for the win over France with Israel Folau, Michael Hooper, Bernard Foley, Dane Haylett-Petty and captain Stephen Moore all set to return as they attempt to continue their unbeaten run.

Irish Independent

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