Tuesday 16 January 2018

Henshaw ruled out of decider due to knee injury

Robbie Henshaw Picture: Sportsfile
Robbie Henshaw Picture: Sportsfile

Robbie Henshaw returned to Ireland last night to undergo knee surgery after a cartilage injury ruled him out of Saturday's series decider against South Africa.

The Athlone native damaged the joint in a tackle on Lionel Mapoe during the second-half of Ireland's 32-26 defeat to the Springboks.

Joe Schmidt is unlikely to call up a replacement given he has options within his squad to replace the Leinster-bound centre.

"There are guys on standby so we can go back to them," Schmidt said.

"To be honest, if we can cover it internally we probably will at this stage. It's pretty difficult to get them up to speed and to get them down here is a bit of a mission even.

"They wouldn't be able to get down probably until the Monday or Tuesday morning depending on flights and then that's pretty late in the piece to suddenly launch yourself into a Test team.

"There are options with Luke Marshall still being in the squad. The first Test was Luke's first full Test for us for a long time and I thought he did a super job. He's played a fair bit at 13 this year so he would be one option, as would Jared Payne. He could slip back up into the 13 spot and Tiernan O'Halloran could go to 15.

"So they're some of the conundrums we'll try to sort out ."

Ireland travelled to the coastal city of Port Elizabeth ahead of the final game of their season last night and Schmidt will rest his players today in an attempt to freshen things up for the decider.

"We'll glue ourselves back together and have a look," he said. "The fatigue factor comes in, you try to get a lead in the next 48 hours on who is recovering and who is bouncing back and we'll leave all those decisions probably as late as possible.

"Some guys might still be a bit fatigued on Tuesday but we might want to give them a little bit more time and see how they go on Thursday and maybe even bracket a couple of guys if needs be."

CJ Stander is available again after serving his one-game ban, while Mike Ross, Keith Earls, Jordi Murphy and Ultan Dillane are likely to come back into the squad.

Eoin Reddan and Matt Healy, the only players yet to feature against the 'Boks, may also have some involvement.

South Africa have worries of their own, with Warren Whiteley (shoulder) and Duane Vermeulen (elbow) struggling after Saturday's win.

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