Seán McMahon reporting from Carton House.
With Wales having named a very strong team for their clash with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, attention turned to the state of affairs at Carton House and the current injury problems which Joe Schmidt’s side face.
Ireland will not name their team until Thursday and there are a number of players who will be looking to prove their fitness ahead of that team announcement. Leinster’s James Ryan, Tadhg Furlong, Garry Ringrose and Ulster’s Iain Henderson were all the topic of conversation this afternoon and Ireland’s defensive coach, Andy Farrell, gave an optimistic update on all those players at today’s media briefing in Co. Kildare.
The Irish squad reconvened on Sunday night and Farrell reveals there is a change in atmosphere in camp as Wales loom large on the horizon.
“All good [training], there’s a bit of a bite in the air. The lads came back in on Sunday and I can see a telling difference in the camp in which they are hungry to prepare. We’re training really well, Monday and Tuesday, and we’re all pushing in the right direction,” Farrell said.
Ireland’s biggest worry is arguably the fitness of Furlong and Farrell revealed that the ‘jukebox’ is currently hitting the targets set to him by the S&C staff which bodes well for Thursday’s announcement.
“Well he’s hitting his markers, he’s training well, he’s not been in full training, he’s been doing a bit part of stuff and we’ll make a decision on that Wednesday night or Thursday morning.”
James Ryan is fully fit and Henderson, like Furlong, is hitting his targets that are set by the coaching staff.
“James Ryan has been training fully with us for the last few days so he’s fully fit. Iain Henderson, a bit like Tadhg, he’s hitting his markers, pushing in the right direction and we’ll assess how he pulls up after two hard days of training.”
Robbie Henshaw’s injury against Italy, which ruled him out of the remainder of the Six Nations is a huge blow to Ireland but Irish fans will be encouraged by the glowing endorsement provided by Farrell of Garry Ringrose.
The Leinster star has yet to play any minutes for Leinster since recovering from injury but has been called into Ireland camp regardless and as Farrell describes, the 23-year-old is looking very impressive in training.
“Garry has come back into camp today and he’s looking great. I actually said to him ‘have you put a bit of weight on?’. He’s looking in great nick, it’s good to have him back.
“He cut us open in training a few times like he normally does! So it’s great to have him back. Again, he’s short of game time, obviously, but he’s a class player, Gary, and he slotted straight back in today.”
Ireland will name their team to face Wales at 13:45 on Thursday.