Ireland kick off their quest for NatWest 6 Nations glory again this weekend with a clash with Wales and ahead of the crunch tie, it seems Joe Schmidt could well be without pivotal tighthead Tadhg Furlong.
Furlong left the field of play against Italy in the opening minutes with what was reported later as ‘tightness’ in his hamstring. Having not trained in anger since, however, it appears now that the British and Irish Lion looks set to miss out on the crucial clash with a Wales side that has become a Six Nations thorn in Ireland’s side.
According to the Irish Independent overnight, Furlong has not recovered sufficiently from his hamstring issues and Ireland boss Schmidt will not take a chance with arguably the world’s top tighthead this weekend.
With clashes with Scotland and England to come, Schmidt will want the 25-year-old back to his best for the final two rounds of the Championships.
Set to step into the starting XV will be Andrew Porter, who deputised for Furlong against Italy. The 22-year-old gave an impressive account of himself against the Azzurri and while Ireland will certainly miss the presence of Furlong against a powerful Welsh pack, in Porter Ireland have a more than capable lieutenant.