O'Driscoll doubt for crunch Heineken Cup double-header with suspected fractured jaw
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL was the major injury worry following yesterday's 29-9 victory over Argentina, with the Ireland captain sent for an X-ray on a suspected fractured jaw.
The centre was replaced by Keith Earls after 68 minutes and must now be considered a doubt for Leinster's back-to-back Heineken Cup clashes with Clermont on December 12 and 18, with Ireland coach Declan Kidney hopeful the injury will not involve O'Driscoll having to receive surgery. "Brian is the one guy there is concern over," admitted Kidney.
"He's going for an X-ray and could have a crack in the jaw, the treatment for which we're not sure yet. If it's just a crack, he might be able to avoid surgery and having a plate inserted; we'll just have to wait and see what the story is there.
"He felt okay, it just felt prudent to get him off when we did. Brian felt comfortable himself, he asked for a few minutes but the medics said he had to come off." Last season, Jonathan Sexton (who kicked 17 points for Ireland yesterday) was out for five weeks after fracturing his jaw in Leinster's Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Clermont, missing the semi-final defeat to Toulouse before returning for the province's Magners League play-off win over Munster.
O'Driscoll's injury aside, Kidney was pleased with an Irish performance that saw them finish the November Series on a positive note and was particularly happy with the scrum after the difficulties in that set-piece against South Africa and Samoa.
Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tony Buckley started together as a front row for the first time at senior level and Kidney singled that trio out for special mention, given the experience of their Argentinian opponents who, with an average age of 34, had a pronounced advantage in terms of experience.
"We've been working with that front row since the Churchill Cup and I'd like to congratulate them on the way the stood up to it (the Pumas). But when we scrummage as an eight, it makes a difference.
"We need players to get a go, particularly in the front-row. We need John Hayes to play and there's other players to come back like Jerry (Flannery), Rory (Best) and Marcus (Horan). Front rows need game time," added Kidney.
"But we're delighted because we put lot of time into it (the scrum). Scrummaging is about all eight."
However, despite an accomplished overall showing, Kidney pointed out areas that Ireland need to work on before the Six Nations.
"The line-out still needs more work," he conceded "We went for ball at tail, which is more of an attacking call but riskier as well. We need to know when to go for it and when not.
"In terms of restarts, it's a skill development thing that we're aware of but it's not something that can be instantaneously fixed. I wouldn't put it down to one individual; we were in the wrong positions. It's something we can work on.
"The first half, we had more ball and better shape to us. We were more clinical today but there are several aspects we need to improve -- I think we lost the ball four times in contact when we were counter-rucked.
"In the first half, we were good and positive when we had the ball and attacked them on both flanks. We managed to take scores most times when got into their 22. There are areas to improve on and we are certainly not the finished article, but this was a good stepping stone."