You are viewing the content for Tuesday 21 February 2006

Ireland hopeful of O’Connell recovery

By Charlie Mulqueen
EDDIE O’SULLIVAN is still hopeful that Paul O’Connell will be available for Sunday’s Six Nations meeting with Wales at Lansdowne Road.

The Irish coach is happy with yesterday’s reports from the medics and the player himself.

A press release on behalf of the management stated: "Following the week of rehabilitation, the injury to Paul O’Connell’s shoulder has made good progress. Paul’s rehabilitation programme will continue where he will take some part in training today and tomorrow. A further update on the injury will be given on Wednesday."

Ireland Team Doctor Gary O’Driscoll said: "Paul is now pain free in the shoulder and has progressed at a very pleasing rate. If Paul’s rehab continues on this present curve, we are reasonably confident that he will be available for the weekend."

Meanwhile Ulster and Ireland A prop Bryan Young has joined up with the Ireland squad due to an injury to Reggie Corrigan.

Corrigan suffered a neck strain playing for Leinster against the Dragons and the injury will need 48 hours rest to allow it to settle down.

Mike Ruddock has revealed some of the issues he will raise with Welsh Rugby Union directors when he meets them in Cardiff today.

Ruddock will return to the Millennium Stadium a week after his departure as Wales coach for "family reasons" was announced.

Despite overseeing RBS 6 Nations title success last season and Wales’ first Grand Slam since 1978, his 21-month reign came to an abrupt end.

And while Ruddock prepares to face the WRU board, Wales’ troubled build-up to Dublin has taken another potentially damaging turn.

Captain Gareth Thomas is a doubt after going to hospital Sunday night suffering from a severe migraine.

Thomas had appeared on BBC Wales’ ‘Scrum V’ programme earlier in the evening, when he faced a 30-minute studio grilling over events surrounding Ruddock’s shock exit.

"He was assessed by the Wales medical team yesterday, and he is continuing to rest at home for the remainder of the day," said Wales team doctor, Professor John Williams.

Thomas has admitted Wales will be under "extra pressure" as they prepare to face Ireland, and he is a pivotal part of caretaker coach Scott Johnson’s plans to retain the Six Nations crown.

Ruddock, meanwhile, will require answers to a number of questions at tomorrow’s summit session. "I will raise the issue of why it was that we went into the Six Nations without having in place contracts for any of the three Grand Slam-winning coaching team (Ruddock, Johnson and Clive Griffiths), particularly having already lost fitness coach Andrew Hore," he said.

"With reference to questions of player power, if there were disaffected players I’ll raise the issue of any support structure that should have been in place to deal immediately and appropriately with the matter."

As for his coaching record, Ruddock added: "Rugby fans in Wales who watched my coaching career since I started by winning the Monmouthshire League at Blaina nearly 20 years ago, know I have had sustained success during it.

"For example, two championships at Swansea, plus one Welsh Cup triumph, and a victory over world champions Australia in 1992.

"In Leinster, I won the Irish inter-provincial championship and had three wins in Europe against Leicester, one of which was at Welford Road.

"With a limited budget at Ebbw Vale, we made two Welsh Cup semi-finals and the quarter-final of the European Shield competition, and had a better-than-predicted season with the newly-formed Gwent Dragons.

"I saw my role when I took over as Wales coach in the spring of 2004 as fixing the key areas that weren’t operating to their potential, notably the scrum, line-out and defence.

"I also empowered skills coach Scott Johnson to continue his excellent work in developing the attacking side of our game, enabling me to concentrate on my forward speciality and all the other demands placed on the national coach, like analysing the opposition and dealing with strategy, the media and the hierarchy of the WRU. As Clive Woodward said the other day, the role of head coach is more than that of a manager, empowering others to put your plans into action.

"I think I have done that pretty effectively."