Ireland’s World Cup ambitions have suffered a potentially grievous injury blow just over a week before they commence their campaign in Japan against Scotland.
RugbyPass understands that not only is Robbie Henshaw likely to miss the all-important clash versus the Scots in Yokohama on September 22, it is also possible that his participation in the entire tournament is under threat after he suffered a hamstring tear.
Ireland flew out for the finals on Wednesday after Henshaw had seemingly proven his fitness with a fine performance in his first match of the season, last Saturday’s Dublin warm-up win over Wales.
However, history is now set to repeat itself as it appears the centre will not be available to face the Scots in the 2019 opener similar to what happened in 2015 when he missed the opening two games of that tournament with another hamstring problem.
The 26-year-old eventually returned to start the remaining three games of that five-match campaign, featuring against Italy, France and in the quarter-final with Argentina, but there is now a concern that he might not even get on the field at any stage in Japan due to the severity of this particular hamstring issue.
If Henshaw is unavailable to face the Scots, Ireland, who are currently based in Chiba until next Wednesday’s switch to Yokohama, would have to pair near ever-present No12 Bundee Aki with either Garry Ringrose or Chris Farrell.
Aki partnered Ringrose in the humiliating warm-up defeat to England at Twickenham before linking up with Farrell the following weekend in the win over Wales in Cardiff. The New Zealand born centre then lined up alongside Henshaw last weekend in Dublin in a contest where that pairing looked the most impressive of the three that were used across the three games.
Will Addison would be seen as the favourite to be called up if Henshaw is ultimately ruled out of the tournament. He was due to play for Ulster in a friendly at Glasgow on Saturday but he was dropped to the bench shortly before kick-off and went unused.
Having watched Ireland get torn asunder by England, the legendary Brian O'Driscoll has stated his preferred midfield partnership for the World Cup
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 27, 2019
Until Henshaw damaged his hamstring against Wales in what was only his second game for Ireland in 2019 (his first since the February loss to England), Joey Carbery had been Ireland’s only major injury concern leading into the must-win World Cup opener against the Scots.
The back-up out-half injured his ankle in the first warm-up match versus Italy on August 10. Keith Earls was injured last weekend against Wales but was cleared to travel to Japan.
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