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Schmidt and O'Connor waiting for Heaslip scan


Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip

Jamie Heaslip

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and Leinster's Matt O'Connor will wait with bated breath on the outcome of a scan to the shoulder of Jamie Heaslip.

The indestructible number eight was originally hurt in a perfectly legal double clean out at a ruck by Callum Black and Rory Best and was further inconvenienced when driven back onto the shoulder by a cracking tackle from Best.

Worryingly, there is no clear candidate to replace Heaslip at Ireland, should one be needed, as Robin Copeland is second best to CJ Stander - not yet Ireland qualified - at Munster.

Robbie Diack started there against Georgia in November. He is currently third choice at Ulster to Roger Wilson and Nick Williams at Ulster, albeit packing down on the blindside on Saturday afternoon.

Ireland are starting to look threadbare in many departments as the toll of injuries continues to rise, Ulster's Tommy Bowe leaving The RDS with what his coach Neil Doak described as "a dead leg" and maintaining an expression that did not bode well for confidence.

The headaches may not be as severe at Leinster, where Jack Conan is steaming ahead with a Man of the Match output against Ulster.

In addition, versatile back rower Jordi Murphy finally shed the out-of-form tag.

Not one to turn away from the criticism, Murphy viewed his physical impact against Ulster as "a stepping stone". Nothing more.

"I'm going in the right direction," he said.

Professional sport can really be a game of chance. Shane Jennings' hamstring tightened up enough for the veteran to make a call for the greater good of the team.

Murphy moved from the bench to the number seven jersey before a ball was kicked and Josh van der Flier was beside him when captain Heaslip was forced off with a bang to his AC shoulder joint.

"It's definitely taken me a while to get up to my speed and I'm not there yet," said Murphy.

"It's not frustrating. It's just what I have to do. I can't get left behind. I can either feel sorry for myself and fall further behind, or else put my hand up and keep moving forward."