Saturday 24 March 2018

Hugh Farrelly: Ireland optimistic on injuries as All Blacks lose Vito

Coach Gert Smal was confident of Cian Healy's (above) recovery in time for Saturday
Coach Gert Smal was confident of Cian Healy's (above) recovery in time for Saturday

Hugh Farrelly In Auckland

THERE was better news on the injury front for Ireland today when, despite a number of players sitting out training, there was optimism that, with the exception of Keith Earls, everyone should be available for selection for the second Test in Christchurch.

Props Cian Healy (shoulder), Declan Fitzpatrick (gluteal strain) and Mike Ross (hamstring) are the main concerns but forwards coach Gert Smal was confident of their recovery in time for Saturday, claiming: “I would say they will all be fine. It's not ideal going into big Test matches like these (resting players) but I think it is quite important that we have them fresh.”

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said flanker Victor Vito has been ruled out of the remainder of the series with a medial ligament strain and expects Adam Thomson, a try-scorer off the bench last Saturday, to start on the blindside flank.

Hansen has placed experienced flanker Liam Messam on standby while veteran hooker Keven Mealamu could come into contention for this weekend after injury although Hansen hinted that he is more likely to feature in the final Test in Hamilton on Saturday week.

Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien, who earned widespread praise for his display at the weekend, was one of the Irish players to sit out today’s session as precautionary measure but said his “body feels good” and stressed the need for Ireland to go after the All Blacks in Christchurch.

“We have to be a lot smarter and we have to play a little bit more. We didn't have the ball for long periods of time and we had to make a lot of tackles in defence and it took its toll on us," he said.

“There was a lot of handling errors, I made a couple myself, and the breakdown we can go a little better there and if we put out our errors and concentrate on our game and play a little more than we should put in a better performance.”

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport