Saturday 29 April 2017

Paul Kimmage forced into climbdown after saying that he was 'not buying' Jamie Heaslip's injury

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Paul Kimmage has admitted that he was wrong to suggest that Jamie Heaslip wasn't injured for the victory over England at the Aviva, that denied the visitors a Grand Slam on March 18.

The award-winning sports journalist and Sunday Independent columnist was initially sceptical over the circumstances surrounding the Leinster man's late withdrawal from the team that ultimately deprived Eddie Jones' side of a world record unbeaten run.

The confusion was fuelled by the IRFU assertion that Heaslip rolled his ankle pre-game and Joe Schmidt referring to a hamstring injury post-game.

Speaking on The Last Word on Today FM on the Monday after the game, he said: "I'm looking at the timeline because this is what is really interesting about it. On Monday, O'Mahony is put forward as the senior player for Ireland's first press briefing of the week. On Thursday, Joe Schmidt names the flanker on the bench, retaining his back row of Stander, O'Brien and Heaslip.

"On Saturday, O'Mahony features on the cover of the match programme and is the lead interview inside. And then the injury itself. Who told him he rolled his ankle? Because when you roll your ankle, you roll your ankle - you definitely don't have a sore back. Where did that story come from?

"I'm not buying it. I think the truth will come out eventually. I'm not buying it anyway."

The truth did emerge. Heaslip had a minor procedure on his lower back last Friday morning and will be assessed over the next number of weeks ahead of a definitive time-line on his return to play.

The injury puts his season and his Lions prospects in serious doubt.

Stand-in host Gavan Reilly asked Paul to respond on yesterday evening's The  Last Word and he said: "As all the best politicians would say, Gavan: I'm glad you asked me that. [Laughs]

"I have in possession here a copy of Thursday's Times, and a story written by Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh, and the headline ran "Schmidt Planned To Drop Heaslip For O'Mahony".

"Now, in all things sport and in all judgements that we make about these things, there's a certain amount of information involved. And if you read this piece by Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh, who had been with the team all week, there was every indication that Schmidt planned to drop Heaslip.

"Now based on that information, and based on the fact that there wasn't the usual leak of the team as there always is, I think it was safe, if you were in the stadium that day, it was safe to assume that it might have happened. And that was the assumption I made It might have happened, there were grounds to believe that it might have happened, and as it turns out...okay, I was wrong!."

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