Monday 14 October 2019

Fears grow for Jack Conan after 'set-back' as Greg Feek defends Ireland's discipline at scrum time

Jack Conan during the Ireland Rugby captain's run at the Shizuoka Stadium
Jack Conan during the Ireland Rugby captain's run at the Shizuoka Stadium
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Jack Conan was the sole Ireland squad member to sit out their eve of match Captain's Run training session at the Ecopa Stadium this morning and assistant coach Greg Feek described the injury as "a bit of a set-back" and said it would require further investigation.

The No 8 was due to be selected for tomorrow's game against Japan but was involved in a training-ground accident when a team-mate stood on his ankle yesterday, ruling him out of the game.

He looked in good spirits as he watched on and it is not thought at this stage that his World Cup is under threat.

Peter O'Mahony comes into the team, with CJ Stander reverting to No 8 for the clash as Joe Schmidt's side look to make it two wins out of two at the Ecopa Stadiium in Shizuoka tomorrow morning.

Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw trained with the squad as they went through their final run through at the venue and Schmidt remains optimistic about having all of his squad available for Thursday's clash with Russia in Kobe when he is likely to rotate his team heavily.

"At that this stage, it's just a wait and see. We're going to get some opinions on that over the next couple of days and then go from there," Feek said.

"It's a little bit of a set-back at this stage but I think once we get the game out of the way and we get the reports in from medical and the Strength and Conditioning team, we'll probably have some more information on that. Probably after the game, I'd say.

"Everyone (selected) is fine to play, even the guys that aren't involved came through. No changes, boys are looking good."

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Having missed out on the majority of the opening weekend win over Scotland due to a head injury, O'Mahony is keen to get stuck in against Japan having passed all of the return to play protocols.

"It's not something you plan, obviously it's my second World Cup but the first game of the tournament and it wasn't ideal to be coming off that early," he said.

"But, it's part and parcel of rugby these days. You get through your return to play stuff, the S&C guys and the medical team are well used to it at this stage, it's bread and butter for them and they were very good.

"I passed all the protocols, I trained fully on Tuesday and I'm ready to go.

"I'm feeling fresh, I only got 25 minutes or whatever so I am looking forward to playing."

Ireland's scrum has come under scrutiny this week after Japan prop Yusuke Kizu criticised Cian Healy's technique and coach Jamie Joseph labelled Ireland's set-piece as illegal.

Feek leaped to the defence of his players and set-piece.

"That was one of the younger players in the squad and it can be daunting coming out to do media," he said.

"And we've all been in that position where sometimes you say things.

"But for us we pride ourselves as a team, and it's something that Joe has driven as one of our mantras right from the start with Ireland is to be the most disciplined team in world rugby.

"And to be fair to the players, after working with them for so long, how they go about their business in terms of their discipline is world class.

"Some of our discipline, I would say in the last 20 years you wouldn't see a team that's so hard on their discipline.

"There's always going to be the odd occasion where two front-rows might not agree on things, or the referee might not get it right, but that's all part of the game.

"And the media as well, you might read stuff yes, but in this type of competition you just have to be focused on our systems, our processes and backing our players to do the thing that they are most used to doing, and that's being disciplined rugby players."

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