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Ireland hit by fresh injury doubt ahead of Scotland clash

By PA
Ireland/ PA

Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw has emerged as an injury doubt ahead of Saturday’s crucial Rugby World Cup showdown with Scotland in Paris.

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The 30-year-old is struggling with a “niggle” and will be assessed ahead of head coach Andy Farrell naming his matchday 23 on Thursday afternoon.

Henshaw suffered a fitness setback at the start of the tournament when he was a late withdrawal from Ireland’s bench for the 82-8 win over Romania.

He subsequently came on as a replacement in the 59-16 success over Tonga and the 13-8 victory against reigning champions South Africa.

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Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell said: “Everyone came through training, but Robbie has a bit of a niggle and we’re finding out about that today.

“I’m sure there will be some information on that tomorrow.”

Henshaw has been providing back-up for in-form midfield duo Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose.

Leinster team-mate Jimmy O’Brien, Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey and Munster veteran Keith Earls are among the options to take his place in Farrell’s squad to face the Scots, if he is ruled out.

Ireland will secure a quarter-final spot as Pool B winners with a victory or a draw at Stade de France, while a loss may also be sufficient for progression, depending on the scoreline and bonus points gained.

Farrell’s men are seeking a 17th consecutive success to set up a likely last-eight appointment with either hosts France or three-time champions New Zealand.

Former Ireland captain O’Connell, who represented his country at four World Cups, believes the current crop of players know how to remain in the moment and avoid being inhibited by passion or pressure.

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“Being able to not rely massively on emotions is a big part of it,” he replied when asked about the key to consistently backing up wins.

“It’s always a big strength of ours how much the lads love playing for Ireland, how important the history of the team is.

“But that’s kind of the icing on the cake now rather than the whole cake.

“I think probably in fairness it would have come in under Joe (Schmidt, former head coach) and that ability to focus just on what’s right in front of you and not what’s too far ahead of you.

“They’ve a big appetite around just getting better and improving, both individually and as a group.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
5
Draws
0
Wins
0
Average Points scored
26
13
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
60%

“When the focus is all about getting better, you acknowledge the significance of what might happen if you win a game at the weekend for sure, but you’re kind of able to ignore it a little bit then as well.

“The more you understand who you are and what you stand for the easier it is to perform.

“They don’t have to build up how important the game is. We all know it and they all know it.

“They focus on getting better, they focus on the next moment, and that sometimes helps them block out some of the noise around the game.”

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