Tuesday 26 September 2017

Joe Schmidt: Jamie Heaslip 'very uncomfortable' following knee to the back

Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will face an anxious wait to determine the extent of Jamie Heaslip’s injury after the number eight was substituted in the second half following a knee to the back that resulted in Pascal Pape being shown a yellow card.

Heaslip missed last week’s win in Rome with a shoulder problem and Schmidt revealed that the player was “very uncomfortable” following Ireland’s 18-11 win at the Aviva Stadium this evening.

“He’s very uncomfortable at the moment. He got a knee in the lower back so we’ll get him checked out over the next couple of days,” Schmidt said

“At least we can come up for a breath for a couple of days before we begin our preparation for England but we’ll wait and see how Jamie is but he's pretty uncomfortable at the moment.”

After a bruising encounter, Schmidt allayed fears surrounding the fitness of Johnny Sexton who received stitches during the second half after a clash with Mathieu Bastareaud while he underwent a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) as a mere “precaution”.

Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien made their eagerly awaited return from injury and the latter got through 74 minutes despite pulling out of last weekend’s win during the warm-up with a tight hamstring.

O’Brien put in a tireless shift and admitted that the physicality and the pace of the game caught up with him later on.

“I was blowing. I was sucking air there at one point but it was good to get the amount of minutes that I did. I was very surprised to get the shout to go back on again but the legs felt good,” O’Brien said.

“It was tough. There were a lot of big hits close in that maybe people didn’t see. It was a very physical game and there’ll be a lot of sore bodies from our side and theirs but we were expecting that.

“They have some very big, physical players and they really got stuck into us in the second half.”

O’Brien was quick to point to the character that his side showed to see out the game and notch up their ninth straight win – a tenth would be a new record for Ireland.

“I just think there’s no panic out there, we have a lot of calm operators and our system doesn’t change regardless of what’s going on.

“We showed a lot of composure there in the last 10 minutes that relieved a bit of pressure. We survived and that’s the main thing.”

The focus now switches to England who arrive in Dublin in two weeks and O’Brien knows the scale of the task that lies ahead in what is already being billed as a ‘championship winning game’.

Ireland were beaten in Twickenham last year but the Tullow native doesn’t believe ‘revenge’ will be on Ireland’s agenda.

“England obviously had a big win today and we know all about them from last year and what they bring to the table.

“It’s going to be a massive game and we’ll start planning for that next week. If you go put to get revenge on a team, you probably get bit in the a**e a bit so it’s a case of being composed and measured and making sure that we have all our detail in place and are signing off the same hymn sheet.”

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