Head coach Joe Schmidt acknowledged that in terms of injuries Ireland have been extremely fortunate by comparison with other teams.
Jared Payne and Rob Kearney sit out this weekend’s match against Italy, but are carrying only minor knocks and Ireland’s medical team are hopeful of having them both back in contention for the France game in eight days time.
At yesterday’s team announcement Schmidt said: “You just touch wood and hope that that will continue. If it does, it certainly helps us and our preparation.”
Video by Dan Linehan.
However he warned the opening two games against Canada and Romania were easier than matches elsewhere in the tournament and Ireland could face more attrition after the tougher tests in the remaining pool games.
“Without putting a hex on anybody you know that probably for us, this game is a bit tougher than the last two and that will be a challenge for us,” he said.
“I think inevitably when you go up a level, there’s a little bit more likelihood that somebody will potentially cop an injury.”
Schmidt was asked what he would do about Sergio Parisse in Italy coach Jacques Brunel’s position - risk playing a player still not fully fit or attempt to win without him.
“Jacques is a very astute man,” he answered. “I’ve coached team against him in the Top 14 and come out second a number of times. I’ve got a lot of respect for J and only he will know exactly how fit Sergio is.”
It has since been confirmed that Parisse will play; Schmidt said Ireland were prepared for that.
“We’ve prepared as if he is going to be there.”
He admitted that a team led by Parisse was a much tougher prospect than one without him.
“I think we all know what value he adds to a team,” Schmidt said. “Not just as an individual athletic player, but also as a leader and as a talisman.”
Shaun Cronin, head sports reporter, breakingnews.ie speaking with Simon Lewis, golf and rugby correspondent with the Irish Examiner about Ireland’s clash with Italy in the RWC. Video by Dan Linehan