Joe Schmidt hasn’t been able to select the same back row from one match to the next in the 2019 championship, and he must now tweak his selection again after it was confirmed that Josh van der Flier is unavailable due to the knock he picked up in last Sunday’s win over France.
That win sustained Ireland’s slender title chances, but they must stop Wales from sealing a first Grand Slam in seven years with a win in Cardiff and then hope English slip up at home to Scotland in London.
“Josh van der Flier has been withdrawn this week due to a groin injury,” said assistant coach Greg Feek. “Obviously with a short turnaround this week it’s hard to get those sorts of things right.”
Van der Flier’s absence opens up a back row vacancy, but Feek insisted Ireland won’t be short of options at their disposal.
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The alternatives include Sean O’Brien who was omitted from the France clash after a below-par showing in the 26-16 win in Rome. Meanwhile, Dan Leavy is fit again after ankle trouble and could be in contention for his first appearance in this year’s tournament.
Full-back Kearney was a late withdrawal from Sunday’s 26-14 win over France with calf trouble, while fly-half Carbery missed out due to a hamstring complaint.
Always an honour to wear this jersey. The support on Sunday was incredible! Pity to come off injured so early but looking forward to cheering on the boys this weekend ???? pic.twitter.com/ziwIFOheF4
— Josh van der Flier (@joshvdf) March 12, 2019
“We’ll have to wait and see; at the moment, they’re ready to rock and roll. It was a precautionary thing for Rob last week so we’re hoping that he’s fine, but he’s the best judge of that at the end of the day.
“Getting out there with the boots on will be the key factor, so we’ll see how they go (in training). They’re getting their boots on and we’ll have a light run around.”
Feek additionally confirmed Munster lock Tadhg Beirne, who can also operate on the flank, is another pushing hard for inclusion.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 12, 2019
“Tadhg Beirne, he’s looking pretty good as well; he’s got his hand up for selection and he’ll train again today [Tuesday],” said Feek.
“Dan Leavy is in the group as well and he’ll train with us fully. We got him in to make sure he’s all good.
“He’s been in the squad before and it’s just to see how things go with him this afternoon and the other guys as well.
“The short turnaround is what it is, it doesn’t affect our preparation. We’ve done it before and we’ll see how today goes.”
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