Saturday 18 November 2017

Joe Schmidt to delay naming replacement as Henshaw forced out

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt will delay a decision on who will replace Robbie Henshaw in Argentina until after tomorrow's Pro12 final, with the centre having been ruled out of Ireland's summer tour.

The Connacht star was expected to take over from Brian O'Driscoll at outside centre next month, but exacerbated an existing hand ligament injury in training in recent days and was ruled out yesterday morning.

That leaves Darren Cave as the only out-and-out No 13 in the squad named earlier this month, but Fergus McFadden and Keith Earls have played in the position.

Emerging Ireland squad members Eoin Griffin and Brendan Macken would appear to be next in line, but Schmidt will watch Leinster's meeting with Glasgow Warriors at the RDS before confirming any replacement in the hope that the 10 members of the Blues in his squad come through unscathed.

CHAMPIONS

The New Zealander and his squad will depart for Buenos Aires on Sunday evening ahead of the two-Test tour that sees the Six Nations champions take on an understrength Puma side in Resistencia on Saturday week and in Tucuman a week later.

While he is hoping to win both games, Schmidt wants to expand his selection horizons on the tour.

"If you look at the landscape between now and the World Cup – or even next year's Six Nations – this is the one window where we can get away and leave a few players behind and let them recover from niggly injuries and get a rest period and for us to widen the net a little bit and look at how players are developing," he said last night.

"For me, it would be fantastic if we can get the two results because I don't think it has been done, but at the same time it would be great to find out about the four guys who are uncapped and some other guys who haven't had that many opportunities. I think there's an exciting group going, looking forward to getting away and seeing how those players operate and it's going to be a hostile environment."

Irish Independent

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