Ireland are hopeful that Rob Kearney will overcome the shoulder injury he suffered at the weekend in time for November’s Guinness Series of Test matches.
Kearney sustained the injury last Sunday as Leinster won at Treviso in the PRO14 and though the veteran full-back was not selected to travel in a 26-man party for this Saturday’s Test against Italy in Chicago, he has joined up with the remainder of the 42-man squad being supervised back in Carton House, Kildare by head coach Joe Schmidt ahead of sell-out home games against Argentina, New Zealand and the USA.
Schmidt will join his matchday squad in Chicago tomorrow late on Wednesday or on Thursday morning ahead of the game at Soldier Field while Kearney and fellow shoulder injury concern Peter O’Mahony continue to receive treatment in Ireland but forwards coach Simon Easterby insisted no-one had been ruled out playing some part in the forthcoming Guinness Series.
“He will be working this week with (IRFU head physiotherapist) Colm Fuller, who stayed back,” Easterby said of Kearney in Chicago on Tuesday.
“Any other guys who are needing treatment will be working with him and then when we return from here, with the flight involved and potentially a few bumps and bruises from this game this weekend, we'll assess everything on Sunday evening and make a call on next week.
As far as we're concerned at the moment, everyone that's named in that squad still has the potential to play throughout the November Series.
Ireland have 26 players available for selection this weekend with the bulk of the squad’s leadership group remaining at Carton House while Munster duo Sammy Arnold and John Ryan, Leinster’s Dan Leavy and Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey were released back to their respective provinces for this weekend’s PRO14 fixtures before rejoining the squad on Sunday.
Of the players back in Irish camp, Easterby added: “They've been in Carton House for a couple of days working away and some have had an opportunity to recover from a few bumps. Others are working hard, particularly hard in a conditioning sense.
“I guess it's a very small window, which you don't get many of during a season, to get some work into some players and also, on the other side, it gives us an opportunity to take some less experienced players away and try to build as much depth and as many experiences as we can into a wider group.
“Joe (Schmidt) stayed and he's coming in tomorrow.”
Easterby explained the thinking behind the selection of the 26-man squad from which the squad to face Italy will be selected.
“Looking at the four games that we've got and the opportunities to build a bit of depth, there aren't that many windows between now and the World Cup.
“I think that's been happening over a period of time but coming away from home with a group with a backbone of experience but also a lot of guys with single figure caps, we'll find out a bit more about them.
“We'll find out how they respond in a different environment and looking a little bit medium-to-long term, towards the back end of next year when we'll be in the World Cup, it allows us to spend a bit of time with players that feel they deserve the opportunity.
“Some of their form for their provinces and previous work they've done with us already means they deserve an opportunity to step up this week and build through what's going to be a really tough couple of weeks for us.”