Ireland will open their November Test series this weekend when they take on a resurgent South Africa in the Aviva Stadium and with world ranking bragging rights up for grabs, the home side will want to hit the ground running.
Ahead of the match-day squad announcement later this week, the latest injury news coming from the team camp at Carton House is not reporting anything too serious.
Simon Easterby informed the assembled media on Tuesday that three of those under observations are back-row options Tommy O’Donnell, Jack Conan and Dan Leavy.
With all three sitting out training today, the forwards coach was not overly pessimistic in his assessment of the three and their various ailments that include a shock knock (O’Donnell), hamstring tightness (Leavy) and ‘heavy workload’ recovery (Conan).
“It’s just management at this stage. It would be nice if you had a clean bill of health and you’ve got everyone available to train but we know that’s not always the case.
“It’s just about being sensible and earmarking players who may have potential weaknesses. If you know about things, at least you can prepare for that and not take any unnecessary risks.”
Based on this update, Ireland’s back row for the Saturday evening clash becomes almost crystal clear.
Assuming there are no injuries picked up between now and then, fans will likely see a British and Irish Lions trio of Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and CJ Stander starting against the visiting Springboks.
Rhys Ruddock, who has been in flying form for Leinster so far this term will likely take a place on the bench, from where he can be used as a powerful impact player in the second half if needed.
Ireland will need to be at the best on Saturday against Alistair Coetzee’s men, who arrive in Dublin battle-hardened from the recently concluded Rugby Championship.
Having endured a difficult year in which the southern hemisphere superpower slumped to a lowly seventh in the world rankings, a strong showing against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand has dragged them back onto the heels of Ireland who are in fourth place.
The presence of an all-Lions back row will certainly offer Ireland much in the way of ball carrying, line breaking and leadership, a trio of traits that fans will hope give Ireland the edge in what will be a hotly contested three weeks of international rugby for Joe Schmidt’s side.
The 23-man squad will be announced later this week, with the Test match kicking off in the Aviva on Saturday at 5:30 pm.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
quotes via The42.ie
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