Wednesday 17 July 2019

Joe Schmidt gives injury update as Rob Kearney emerges as doubt for Italy clash

Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Rob Kearney has emerged as a doubt for Ireland's third Rugby World Cup Pool D clash against Italy next weekend.

Kearney came off the bench to score a try in the 44-10 win over Romania but injured his glute and hip in the proccess and was replaced by Conor Murray with 10 minutes remaining.

Read more: Irresistible Earls, midfield minefield and Irish Invasion – What we learned from Irish win over Romania

“I think Rob was involved in a high speed play immediately after coming onto the pitch," said manager Joe Schmidt.

"Just in scoring the try, he’s just jarred himself up a little bit. We hope it’s not too much. I guess the next 24 to 48 hours will tell whether he’s done anything that would be telling for next week.

"We would hope at this stage that he’s OK. Keith Earls was fine. He passed his HIA. He was put back on the field. The plan was to replace him with Rob Kearney with 20 minutes to go so.

"Again, Keith should be fine. (It was) Through his glute and his hip really. I think it might have happened when his knee hit the ground or it might have just been in the acceleration that he felt he jarred himself up a bit.

"I think we’ll be able to give you a better picture either tomorrow or Tuesday, but at the moment, he’s just icing his glute and hopefully he’s going to be OK."

While Keith Earls was equalling Brian O’Driscoll’s World Cup try-scoring stat of seven, on the other side of the field Tommy Bowe had other issues to sort out. But if they were all about regaining his form ahead of the business end of the pool stage then Joe Schmidt seems to think they are resolved. Speaking after the six tries to one win over Romania the coach said:

“He (Bowe) very much kickstarts himself – I thought he had a super game. He finished a try in the corner incredibly well – both tries. I thought he was incredibly strong in the air.  He made a fantastic low tackle to allow Jared Payne get on the ball and make a turnover in the second half so both sides of the ball I felt Tommy was really good today.

“The midfield pairing went well. I though Darren Cave got through a power of work as well as making a couple of line breaks. Jared Payne again - I thought Simon Zebo’s pass for Keith Earls’s try was exceptional as was Keith’s acceleration in getting in in the corner.

“Up front Nathan White did a really good job and it’s fantastic to have Cian (Healy) taking the ball forward again. He did lose a couple in the 22 which will frustrate him but I think each step he takes is positive for us.

“Dev Toner responded to a bit of pressure really well. I thought he called the lineouts well and he himself physically dominated the lineouts well, and in the loose the longer the game went the more Chris Henry got into it. He got a couple of smart turnovers. To be honest I thought Jamie (Heaslip) led from the front – his early carries were really strong and he won the collision when he did carry which allowed us get on the front foot.”

So all things considered Ireland are in good shape with 10 points from their first two rounds. As good as the coach could have hoped for?

“It’s a difficult thing to work youtslf through a tough couple of games where you’re heavily favoured to get the right result. And as we’ve already seen in this tournament, being heavily favoured to get a result and getting the end result are two enirely different things. I think Canada showed how diffcult they are to play against if you allow them to get on the ball – in their performance yesterday against Italy.

“Romania demonstrated how tough they make the game for you because physically they are well put together and they defend incredibly well. They’re a fantastic collective and they made it a very tough afternoon’s work for us.”

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