Conor Murray 'lucky' to be fit for Italy clash, while Jared Payne in line for return
Published 01/03/2016 | 15:15
Conor Murray is "lucky" he will be fit for Ireland's RBS 6 Nations clash against Italy in Dublin on Saturday, March 12, according to assistant coach Richie Murphy.
Scrum-half Murray received eight stitches around his eye after being kicked in the face accidentally by full-back Mike Brown in Ireland's 21-10 defeat to England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Murray sat out training on Tuesday but is expected to face the Azzurri at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week, after escaping serious injury in the Twickenham loss.
England full-back Brown has avoided censure after being deemed to have legitimately attempted to kick the ball clear at the ruck when catching Murray in the face, with the Ireland scrum-half on the ground after a tackle.
"Conor's got a split next to his eye, he's had eight stitches but he's grand," said Ireland assistant coach Murphy. "He didn't train today, we're just looking after him a little bit.
"He's obviously a little bit bumped up, he got a bit of treatment in that game, so it's a case of looking after him. He was lucky obviously it was just in the corner of the eye, but he's fine and he'll be ready for next week."
Jared Payne should be fit for Ireland's fourth-round Six Nations clash, the Ulster centre closing in on a return after hamstring trouble.
The 30-year-old missed Ireland's defeat at Twickenham after damaging his hamstring in the 10-9 loss to France, but is now on course to face the Italians.
"Jared Payne did a full session today, not with the team but with the fitness guys and the medics," said Murphy, confirming Ireland have no further fresh injury concerns. He came through that fine and it looks like he'll be fully fit to start next week."
Two-time reigning champions Ireland have now conceded their title after three matches without a win. Tighthead prop Mike Ross admitted only two wins from the two remaining matches against Italy and Scotland will prove an acceptable return.
The Leinster stalwart also insisted Ireland had no problem with England full-back Brown's unwitting part in the injury to scrum-half Murray.
"We want to finish on a high, and two wins is the only acceptable outcome now," said Ross of Ireland's frustrating Six Nations campaign. If the ball's exposed you're going to try to get at it by any means necessary.
"You can always stick a foot through and kick it out. It's a part of the game and probably a bit unfortunate that Brown's heel caught Conor there I don't think he was trying to do that and there's no rule against it. f you can mess up the opposition ball you'll do that."