By John Fallon, New Jersey
Joey Carbery is Ireland’s biggest concern as they pack their bags in New Jersey and head to the Land of the Rising Sun for two tough clashes with Japan.
Carbery had a night to forget at the Red Bull Arena and having two kicks blocked down for two USA tries and miscues with his first three — albeit difficult — conversions, his evening came to an end with an ankle injury.
The Irish medical team were hoping to have it scanned before they begin the Sunday morning long-haul flight to Tokyo, with a doubt hanging over the 21-year old’s availability for the tests against Japan.
At least Paddy Jackson, who missed the game in the USA for personal reasons, will be available for Japan while Connacht out-half Jack Carty is understood to be one of many players on stand-by.
Irish coach Joe Schmidt, who said that Tiernan O’Halloran’s injury was nothing more than cramp, said they did not think that Carbery’s problem was the syndesmosis issue which sidelined the out-half for Leinster in December.
“Joey just sprained his ankle a bit chasing across the pitch, he just went to turn back. We thought it pertinent to get him off. We don’t know what the story is yet.
“It hasn’t really swelled too much but it was a bit tender so we’ll see how it settles and maybe get a scan, either here or once we’ve arrived in Tokyo,” said Schmidt.
He handed debuts to five players, with Jacob Stockdale marking his first start with a try, while last year’s U-20 captain James Ryan took less than 60 seconds to score, after being put through by the superb Keith Earls who brought his own try tally to 24 in 60 appearances with a brace.
Dave Heffernan, Andrew Porter and Rory Scannell also made their debuts on a scorching evening when Ireland won by nine tries to three, leaving Schmidt relatively pleased with the win.
Schmidt said: “It’s a pass mark, first up. This group has worked hard but it’s always difficult to put it together. The US got into our space really well and made us work hard. I thought they got into our space quite a few times.
“Particularly Joey, they got into the space with his cross kicks because they were up and in at us.
“It was oppressively hot out there and heavy for the players. The other thing at half-time that the lads were saying was the ball was incredibly slippery. There was a lot of perspiration on the ball which made it incredibly hard to get long transfers.
“Shorter transfers were OK but as soon as you wanted to try to get enough bit on the ball to get it wide it was a little bit difficult,” added Schmidt.