Wednesday 20 February 2019

Beirne an England doubt as Leinster pair unscathed

Seán O'Brien. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Seán O'Brien. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Tadhg Beirne is Ireland's chief concern ahead of the Six Nations opener against England after he hurt his knee in Munster's Champions Cup win over Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

Joe Schmidt will be relieved that Leinster and Ulster came through their victories over Wasps and Leicester Tigers unscathed, as Iain Henderson, Seán O'Brien and Robbie Henshaw survived their returns to action.

O'Brien got 56 minutes under his belt after being promoted to the starting line-up when Jack Conan withdrew with a shoulder issue, while Henshaw came through 62 minutes and Henderson went the distance.

Ireland depart for their pre-tournament camp in Portugal this morning, but Beirne may stay at home to get his knee scanned.

In a post-match interview he admitted he felt a lot of pain after the incident occurred in a ruck late in the game.

The lock missed out on selection for the two biggest games in November, but was pressing for inclusion against England. Devin Toner, James Ryan and Henderson will now likely get the nod.

Johnny Sexton will go to the Algarve after returning to the pitch last week. He has been out since December 29 with a knee tendon issue.

"Johnny is back running so he seems be going well," Leo Cullen said.

"He got through a couple of sessions during the last week. He's not a million miles off now and he'll go to Portugal.

"Dan (Leavy) is staying with us and he is going to rehab. He has been a little bit slower with his calf. It is one of those ones where you expected it to turn around quite quickly, but it is just lingering a little bit.

"I'm not sure how he went over the course of the weekend so the game (against Scarlets) on Friday may be a little bit too soon, but we will assess him tomorrow when we get back and train.

"Jack (Conan) took that bang to his neck/shoulder in the game last week. He actually trained during the week, but it hadn't fully settled. He's travelled. He's here today and I thought he would be okay, but it hasn't turned around as quickly as we would have liked so that's why he was pulled this morning.

"Seán came in and Max was here as well. We always keep a couple of guys for those just-in-case scenarios. It should settle down. We'll wait and see how this week goes.

"I thought they (O'Brien and Henshaw) were strong and physical. Robbie gives us great go-forward in the middle of the field, Seanie gives us great voice and the two of them give us great leadership."

Although most of his internationals will travel to Portugal, Cullen may retain a couple in need of game-time for the clash with Scarlets on Friday. He was due to have a discussion with Schmidt on the topic last night.

Ross Byrne is unlikely to be available after being removed with a head injury late in yesterday's game.

Irish Independent

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