Jordi Murphy has been put on World Cup standby as he was pulled from the Ulster team to face Ospreys amid growing fears for Jack Conan’s World Cup could be over after just one game.
The Leinster No 8 was due to start against Japan this morning at the Ecopa Stadium but was withdrawn following a training ground accident that saw a team-mate stand on his foot.
Conan is at the Ecopa Stadium with Ireland for this morning's match, but the No 8's left foot is in a protective boot. He is one of four players not involved in Ireland's warm-up, with Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton also sitting it out.
Conan was in upbeat form at yesterday's captain's run and at that time the injury was not expected to keep him out for the remainder of the tournament.
However, assistant coach Greg Feek described it as a "set-back" and said the team management would assess the injury over the weekend with an update being provided after the Japan game.
And the decision could centre on his ability to get on the field in time to face Russia on Thursday and Samoa on Saturday week as Joe Schmidt looks to rotate his squad ahead of a likely quarter-final against South Africa.
"At that this stage, it's just a wait and see," he said.
"We're going to get some opinions on that over the next couple of days and then go from there. It's a little bit of a setback 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."
Murphy was stood down by the Irish management from Ulster's opening league game with the Ospreys, as back three player Will Addison had been a couple of weeks ago when there were fears for Robbie Henshaw’s availability.
Addison remained in Ireland, picking up an injury of his own that kept him out of the season opener.
Henshaw returned to training on Friday, with Johnny Sexton also taking part in the Captain's Run, with Conan the only player to sit out the session at the Ecopa Stadium.
The coach said Sexton is on track to feature against Russia in Ireland's third game on Thursday.
"Johnny's good," he told ITV in a pre-game interview. "He did a fair bit on Thursday but didn't train on Tuesday and we wanted to give Jack Carty a bit of time to springboard into the week with a fair bit of clarity. So, he gets the start and we also wanted to get Joey Carbery involved.
"Johnny is likely to be involved in our next match."
Rugby World Cup 2019
IRELAND are feeling the heat in Japan as the hosts raised the temperature on loosehead prop Cian Healy ahead of the clash between the sides in Shizuoka tomorrow.