Wednesday 12 December 2018

Blow for Ireland as Chris Farrell set to miss remainder of Six Nations

The Munster star’s knee injury further depletes Ireland’s centre options.

Chris Farrell File Photo
Chris Farrell File Photo

By Nick Purewal, Press Association Sport

Ireland have suffered another midfield injury blow with Munster star Chris Farrell expected to miss the rest of the NatWest 6 Nations.

Farrell won the man of the match award in Ireland’s 37-27 win over Wales in Dublin on Saturday, but suffered knee trouble in an open training session at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday.

Ireland are already without long-term absentees Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw for the rest of their bid for a first Grand Slam in nine years, while Garry Ringrose is still seeking full match sharpness after ankle trouble.

Ireland Training Session and Press Conference – Carton House

Head coach Joe Schmidt insisted Farrell had shrugged off his injury worry during Tuesday’s training session, only for the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) later to confirm the 24-year-old had in fact suffered knee ligament damage.

“Chris Farrell received treatment on the field earlier today after twisting his knee in the turf,” read the IRFU statement.

“He subsequently jogged on to re-join the rest of the playing group and felt well. He was sent for a precautionary scan this afternoon which indicated some ligament damage had occurred and he will now see a specialist.

“Chris is unlikely to be available for the remainder of the Six Nations.”

Farrell came of Test match age in just his third cap as Ireland ran in five tries to subdue Wales in Dublin on Saturday, but will now miss the tournament-closing clashes with Scotland and England.

If they beat Scotland in Dublin on March 10, Ireland will face England at Twickenham a week later in a bid for just their third-ever Grand Slam, and a first since 2009.

Ulster centre Payne has not played since the summer’s British and Irish Lions tour due to persistent headaches, while Leinster star Henshaw suffered a shoulder injury in Ireland’s 56-10 victory over Italy.

Leinster centre Ringrose has only just returned to action following an ankle problem in January, and while back in Ireland’s squad had remained an outside bet for selection to face Scotland.

Head coach Schmidt may well revise that anticipated assessment in the wake of Farrell’s injury, with Ringrose in the frame to partner Bundee Aki against Scotland.

Schmidt had initially insisted Farrell had shaken off his injury scare on Tuesday, with the Ireland boss joking he had made a “Lazarus”-style recovery.

“He just got his foot caught and fell and then got a bit of a fright,” said Schmidt, straight after the open training session, of Farrell’s injury worry.

“He jogged back out to the huddle – he was described as Lazarus by the players. He certainly was jogging around. He says he is absolutely fine. We don’t suspect that there’s any issue there.”

On further inspection Farrell’s prognosis clearly altered radically, handing Ireland’s coaching staff another injury headache.

Before the news of Farrell’s injury blow, Schmidt had admitted the jury remained out over Ringrose’s chances of facing Scotland.

“He will certainly be in the squad, it’s likely that he may still play with Leinster,” said Schmidt, of Ringrose. “He may well play with Leinster just to get another game under his belt away to Scarlets this weekend.”

Ireland still expect British and Irish Lions pair Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson to be fit to face Scotland despite missing the Wales victory with hamstring injuries.

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