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‘It was a tough old game’ – Andy Farrell counts cost of Ireland injuries in opening tour defeat

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Ireland head coach Andy Farrell (left) and Maori All Black head coach Clayton McMillan shake hands following the match at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell (left) and Maori All Black head coach Clayton McMillan shake hands following the match at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell (left) and Maori All Black head coach Clayton McMillan shake hands following the match at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was left to count the cost of a damaging opening night tour defeat to the Maori All Blacks, as four players were forced off injured in the disappointing 32-17 loss.

Cian Healy needed a medical cart to help him off the field following what looked like a serious lower limb injury.

By that stage, James Hume had already been helped off, with Jimmy O'Brien also limping off, while Jeremy Loughman suffered a head knock that required a HIA, which Farrell later revealed he passed.

Healy is the chief concern as the veteran loosehead's tour looks to be hanging by a thread, meaning Ireland are facing a potential prop crisis.

Although it was too early to confirm anything so soon after the game at Waikato Stadium, Farrell seemed to suggest that reinforcements may be required from Ireland.

That picture will become clearer tomorrow morning, when the Ireland head coach assesses the many bumps and bruises.

“It is what it is, we’ll have a good think on the way back to Auckland tonight,” Farrell said.

"Cian doesn’t look too good but I wouldn’t like to… he was in a bit of pain coming off the field. It’s settled down a bit so we’ll see with him.

"Jimmy came off with a strain. He thinks it’s a strain. He’s feeling pretty good in the changing rooms. James has a bit of a groin injury that needs assessment tomorrow.

“Jeremy Loughman actually passed his HIA by the independent doctor. We brought him off as a precaution and brought Cian off and then that happens to Cian, which is not nice really.

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"A few lads were struggling with cramp at the end there, it was a tough old game especially for the forwards, so like we always do, we’ll dust ourselves off and see in the morning.”

Farrell was left to rue a sloppy performance from his young, inexperienced side, who fell well short against a much slicker Maori outfit, who scored four tries to Ireland's two.

The Ireland boss acknowledged as much, but also looked for the positives, particularly from a battling second-half display that saw his side outscore the hosts 7-0.

“We’re disappointed,” Farrell said.

“The boys are disappointed, obviously. They feel that they could have given a better account of themselves, certainly in the first-half.

“The Maori team 100pc deserved to win that game. I thought the skillset was pretty good in that first half in those conditions so congratulations to them. But I’m proud of the boys, the way that they came back. It could have been a landslide, you know, with the way the score was at half time?

“But I think if you can weigh the game up, we had three or four, maybe more opportunities in that second half that we didn’t take.

“But it says just how gutsy a performance it was in that second half given where they were at half time, so I’m proud of the boys, the way that some of the individuals have stood up, have learnt, done some unbelievably good stuff and then some really poor stuff on the back of that is brilliant learning for this group.

“Five of them played in the green shirt for the first time. A good handful of them have not had too much experience. It’s a new team coming together in seven days and flying to the other side of the world so you’d expect a few ups and downs.

“In all, I think it’s a good day for us with regard to lads learning lessons and knowing that if we fix a few things especially discipline-wise that we can give a better account of ourselves in the next game.”

With the All Blacks to come in Saturday's first Test at Eden Park, Farrell must quickly turn the page.

“There’s a similarity in how most of the New Zealand teams play anyway and the skill-set in those conditions in the first half was excellent form the Maori All Blacks,” Farrell added.

“They narrowed us up quite a bit and got us on the edges a few times and we know that the skill set form the All Blacks is even better, so we know that we will be tested there as well.

“We’ve obviously got a plan. There’s always going to be one or two moving parts in terms of injuries and substitutions.

“We’ll see how people wake up tomorrow. We’ve got the morning off and we train in the afternoon.”


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