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Ireland provide crucial update amid fears of extensive injury list

By PA
Andrew Porter during an Ireland rugby squad training session at Northwood College in Durban, South Africa. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland have no further injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s series finale against South Africa after losing Dan Sheehan and Craig Casey during a bruising opening Test defeat.

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Prop Andrew Porter required treatment on a cut hand in the 27-20 loss in Pretoria, while Jamie Osborne (leg), Bundee Aki (shoulder), James Lowe (thigh) and Robbie Henshaw (concussion) also suffered knocks.

All 35 members of Andy Farrell’s squad trained on Wednesday, including Connacht hooker Dave Heffernan and uncapped Ulster back Nathan Doak, who flew out to replace stricken pair Sheehan and Casey.

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Ireland will attempt to level the two-match series against the world champions on Saturday evening in Durban.

“Everyone trained today,” said Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby, quoted by the Irish Times.

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“Heff (Heffernan) and Doaky (Doak) came in and took part in the session. Everyone apart from Dan and Craig were available and training.”

Ireland improved following an underwhelming first-half display against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld Stadium but were ultimately beaten by a late penalty try during a frantic finish.

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Easterby has been impressed with the group’s response to a first loss to the Springboks since 2016 and feels there is plenty of reason for optimism going into this weekend’s rematch.

“We didn’t expect anything different from the lads,” he said. “When you put in a performance that doesn’t match the levels the lads have put in across the last couple of seasons, then there is clearly disappointment.

“There is no better group to take responsibility for that, to get a second opportunity this weekend.

“We grew massively into the game, and we finished strongly. We will take a lot of confidence from that.

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“You can’t give a side like South Africa the type of space that we allowed because they have too many quality players to put you under pressure and take advantage of that space.”

While head coach Farrell must make at least two changes to his starting XV, which is due to be announced on Thursday, Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus has stuck with an unchanged 23.

“That’s obviously a vote of confidence after their victory and it’s not unusual I guess,” Easterby said. “It gives those guys a chance to back up with another performance.

“We expected a similar type of team and they’ve gone with the same 23, which probably makes it a little easier previewing them because we know a lot of their individuals and we’re aware of a lot of strengths in their team.”

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Comments

23 Comments
D
Dan 9 days ago

Won't matter anyway if the refs continue to let the inferior team win, will it?

It really had to be frustrating to know that your team clearly isn’t good enough to win without direct help from the refs.

Sadly the Bok supporters are all massive thickos. So they have no clue from the start

B
Bull Shark 9 days ago

Injuries list, not so much. Tenderized bodies - plenty. That was a very bruising encounter and I think SA will have their tails up and come in hot.

I expect Ireland are going to be a different kettle of fish in the first half in Durban. They’re going to want to impose their fast, attacking style and put a few early scores on. It’s what I would do if I was them. Nothing to lose. Don’t go to the trenches.

Keep possession and take it through phases.

The rucks are going to be different. I don’t think Ireland are going to be able to lie about all over the place like debris in the rucks. So the penalty count and even yellow card count could be higher if they don’t clean up their act. They were lucky as at least two yellows were left on the field on Saturday. One for Ruck infringements (at least one). Luke Pearce was happy to keep warning them. And there was a deliberate knock down of the ball into touch which could have been a yellow on another day.

Penalty count = kicks to the corners, lineouts, more scrums and a few more mauls. I’d be worried about that if I was Ireland.

The weather for Durban is looking beautiful on Saturday. Low of 15 from a High of 25, clear skies and a light northeaster (put your surfboards away). So perfect rugby conditions again. The grass is a little thicker there - so the Irish don’t have to deal with the Loftus concrete again at least.

The boks wont be happy that they let 3 tries slip through. I think there will be a much better defensive showing. I’m feeling for an emphatic win for SA.

SA. By 38 points.

T
Turlough 9 days ago

That’s fine. That’s enough to have a decent crack at SA. Last game of season, everything can go into the fire.

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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