Sean McMahon reporting from the Aviva Stadium
Ireland have kept alive their hopes of retaining the Six Nations championship after they recorded a 26-14 bonus-point victory over France at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
The performance was much improved from Ireland, especially in the first half, where they registered 77% possession and 89% territory.
However, final preparations didn’t get off to the best possible start as they lost Rob Kearney to a tight calf which saw Jordan Larmour brought into the starting XV at the last minute.
To compound this, Ireland lost Josh van der Flier after just 24 minutes to what Joe Schmidt described after the game as getting “twisted a little bit awkwardly”. It is suspected than van der Flier has a leg injury, possibly knee related.
Schmidt provided an update on van der Flier after the game.
“We came through not too badly,” Schmidt said in the post-match press conference.
“A lot of the replacements were obviously tactical substitutions, so, the only one was Josh van der Flier. He kind of got twisted a little bit awkwardly so we’ll know more about that over the next couple of days. We wanted to get him off just knowing what we have coming up with a six-day turnaround and then we can find out whether he’s going to be okay and forge ahead for next week.
“It’s a really good opportunity for Jack Conan to get out there. I said during the week, he was initially planning to start against Scotland, he’s been champing at the bit ever since, so, he’s gone out there and done a really good job.”
A six-day turnaround to Wales leaves a tighter window for Ireland’s preparations and subsequently, opportunities for players to prove their fitness.
One of those hoping to return will be Robbie Henshaw who has been out of action with a dead leg since the opening round defeat to England but from Schmidt’s comments, it doesn’t sound too good for the Leinster centre but Kearney should be in the reckoning.
“I think Rob Kearney will be a really good chance. He just had calf tightness yesterday and again, we wanted to…right through this Six Nations we tried to utilise the full squad as much as possible. It gave Jordan an opportunity to come in today.
“I would be surprised if Rob [Kearney] wasn’t training on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on when we next train. It will just depend on how the recovery goes tomorrow and Tuesday.
“Robbie Henshaw would be less of a chance. Robbie is recovering but it’s a bit slower than expected.
“Yeah (dead leg). Unfortunately, it lingered. It’s a long time ago since I played but I had one and sometimes it’s almost impossible to get rid of it fast. You just have to let it recover in its own time.”
Ireland will have a day off on Monday where recovery will play a key role before preparations ramp up for Saturday’s trip to Cardiff.