Tuesday 24 October 2017

Injury fears mount over Buckley and Kearney as Varley called in

Hugh Farrelly

TONY BUCKLEY'S involvement in the remainder of Ireland's November Internationals is in serious doubt after he sustained a hip flexor injury in Saturday's loss to South Africa.

Updates are due today on the fitness of the Munster prop and full-back Rob Kearney, who injured his knee late in the game, but it is understood that Buckley could be out for several weeks, threatening his availability for the matches against Samoa, New Zealand and Argentina over the next three weekends.

Ireland confirmed that they have added hooker Damien Varley to their squad in the build-up to the Samoa game but it is expected that Mike Ross will also join the squad and, given Ireland's scrummaging problems against South Africa, the Leinster man has strong claims for a first-team spot.

Kearney's injury could bring Geordan Murphy into the equation after he was ruled out of the South Africa game due to club commitments with Leicester, and Ireland coach Declan Kidney confirmed that he had been in touch with the Tigers full-back and that Murphy was in the picture, adding that Leinster second-row Leo Cullen was also "on the radar".


Following a stirring comeback, Ireland came within the width of a post of securing an unlikely draw after trailing 23-9, but Kidney said South Africa were worthy victors.

"You get what you deserve," said Kidney. "I wouldn't be hiding behind a ball off the post. We did a bit of damage to ourselves by losing the field position battles and that's not just down to one or two players.

"I still believe we're capable of beating anybody but also we're capable of losing to anybody if we don't get it right and we need to get those smarts right."

Substitutes Ronan O'Gara and Peter Stringer were the inspiration behind the Irish revival and Kidney paid tribute to the out-half's contribution on his 100th cap.

"Ronan went well. It's always the thing with out-halves, you get all the blame or all the glory. I want to praise Ronan, because of the fact of the 100 caps, but I think in terms of the game I wouldn't be knocking anything Jonathan (Sexton) did."

There will be much focus on Kidney's selection for Samoa next weekend and the coach will weigh up his options carefully before tomorrow's team announcement.

"I'm a great believer in the panel. I had some ideas but we are treating each game as it comes. Samoa in a World Cup year would always be a bit different, I think it's a huge task. Now is the time to let the adrenalin settle and work out what we're going to do."

Irish Independent

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