From Chiba, Japan
Joe Schmidt said it was hopeful but not likely that Robbie Henshaw will feature in Ireland’s World Cup opener against Scotland in seven days after the centre pulled up with a hamstring problem during training.
Henshaw, who played only 80 minutes during pre-season, in the final warm-up game against Wales in Dublin on September 7, was set to go for a scan this morning Irish time after feeling tightness in a hamstring on Saturday during Ireland’s first training session since their arrival in Japan 48 hours earlier.
Standby player Will Addison was removed from Ulster’s starting line-up ahead of the province’s pre-season game with Glasgow Warriors in Scotstoun on Saturday afternoon but head coach Schmidt said that was just a precautionary measure and the versatile back would not be summoned into the Ireland World Cup squad.
Speaking at the squad’s hotel in Chiba, east of Tokyo, on Sunday, Schmidt said: "Robbie pulled up with a bit of tightness in his hamstring. He has a scan at 2pm (Japan time, 6am Irish time). That will give us more information.
“When he pulled up he wasn’t accelerating. We'd be hopeful it is not too bad. It is likely to rule him out of this week? Yeah, you would have to say it is likely, the fact that he did pull up but we’d be hopefully it is not too bad. I don’t want to guess until we get the scan.”
Of Addison, the Ireland boss added: “No, he is not on his way over. That was precautionary just to make sure that we had fit and able cover should we need a replacement for Robbie.”
With a week to go before Ireland open their Pool A campaign against Six Nations rivals Scotland in Yokohama, Schmidt will weigh his remaining options in midfield should Henshaw fail to pass fit. He was believed to be in pole position to start at outside centre in partnership with Bundee Aki following the duo’s impressive outing in the victory over Wales at the Aviva Stadium eight days ago, although Schmidt also has recognised centres Garry Ringrose and Chris Farrell in his current squad as potential starters in the number 13 jersey and he insisted no decisions had been finalised as to the make-up of his team to face the Scots.
“As much as people wrote it into their reports we have made no decision on who was going to play anywhere for this week. There is obviously people better informed than I am about who was going to play and where! I can assure you we had made no decisions. It is still quite open.
“We will see what happens with Robbie because if it was just a tightening, it could be cramp, we have travelled a lot. We have tried to be fully re-hydrated, fully recovered but if we do have to leave him out this week we do have good cover.”
Schmidt is set to step down as Ireland head coach after the World Cup after six and a half years at the helm and the New Zealander revealed during his press conference that following the death of his mother last month that plans to return to his homeland were now on hold.
“We will probably stay in Ireland for some time. We have become pretty settled there. A big motivator for me to get back (to New Zealand) was family and unfortunately, we lost our mum recently. On the back of that, we’ll take a bit of a breath and make some decisions beyond that.”