Tuesday 24 April 2018

Irish team struck down with illness days before Canada clash, reveals Les Kiss

New Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, right, with interim head coach Les Kiss
New Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, right, with interim head coach Les Kiss

Ruaidhri O’Connor in Toronto

A NUMBER of the Irish rugby squad have been struck down with illness just four days before their meeting with Canada in Toronto.

Coach Les Kiss revealed that the team will train without a number of as yet unnamed players this afternoon, but he remains hopeful that they will make a recovery in time for Saturday’s clash.

It adds to the Australian’s selection headaches after Simon Zebo was called up to the Lions squad to tour his homeland.

However, injury worries over captain Peter O’Mahony, Chris Henry, Fergus McFadden and Robbie Henshaw appear to be easing ahead of the clash which Canada Rugby hopes to sell out at the BMO Field.

Both coaches and captains addressed the media at a conference at the 20,000 capacity home of Toronto FC yesterday and both Kiss and his opposite number Kieran Crowley have plenty of headaches ahead of the weekend’s games.

Ireland beat the US Eagles 15-12 in Houston last Saturday, while the Canadians overcame Tonga in a bad-tempered encounter.

“There is a bit of attrition after a long season, but fair play to the boys they have been good. We have had a couple of minor injuries from last week, but things are looking OK on that part,” Kiss said.

“We have just had a situation today where we will not have a full squad training as there is a little bit of unwellness in the squad, but that is just something you have to deal with when you travel and these little stomach upsets happen.”

New Zealander Crowley will delay finalising his team until Friday as he counts the toll left by an extremely physical encounter with the Tongans in Kingston, Ontario on Sunday.

Three players, Matt Evans, Sean Duke and Jebb Sinclair are recovering from concussion, while Aaron Carpenter (back), Phil Mac (ankle) and Nick Blevins are fighting to be fit.

“They have been good, we had a travel day down on Sunday. The boys are pretty battered and bruised after two games in four days. We have five or six guys we’re sweating on at the moment, we are going through the protocols and we will finalise our team on Friday,” he said.

“They are in good spirits, winning helps that. They are looking forward to a big challenge, a tier one country and we want to put in a good performance and we are looking forward to a good game.”

After coming through in difficult circumstances in Houston last week, Ireland have faced far more familiar conditions in Toronto where it has rained heavily since they arrived.

Although temperatures are due to rise ahead of the game, a repeat of the high humidity is unlikely.

However, after a record crowd at the BBVA Compass Stadium last weekend and an atmosphere to go with it, Kiss is anticipating something similar last weekend and called on the large local expatriate community to lend their support.

“There was a fantastic crowd last week, it was a record for the USA Rugby and there was a fantastic Irish crowd there and they never let us down,” he said.

“I don’t expect anything different here, it will be a tough, unrelenting Canadian crowd, the pitch looks fantastic and I’m looking forward to a fascinating battle.”

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