Ireland look set to have lock Donnacha Ryan available for the trip to Italy this weekend but management are still waiting for positive news on fly-half Johnny Sexton and flanker Peter O’Mahony.
All three missed Saturday’s loss to Scotland although Ryan had recovered sufficiently from a medial knee ligament problem to travel as a reserve. His fellow Munster forward O’Mahony was withdrawn last week with a borderline grade one/two hamstring strain while Sexton continues to rehab his tight calf muscle as head coach Joe Schmidt assesses his selection options before naming his team on Thursday to face Conor O’Shea’s Italy.
“Certainly Donnacha Ryan should be right. I am not sure about Johnny or Pete so I will have a look at that on Monday or Tuesday,” said Schmidt.
The Ireland boss said he was not concerned for tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong, who was replaced by John Ryan with 11 minutes to go following some treatment on a shoulder.
“He just got a ding on the shoulder,” Schmidt said. “He had used the engine up a little bit at that stage. He certainly put in a good shift.”
Schmidt had earlier reported that Ireland’s team bus had been late arriving at Murrayfield after police outriders had led their escort over a different route than had been planned. It forced the team behind schedule and led to some rushed pre-game preparations, a portent of disappointments to come in the match.
“We arrived about 15 minutes late to the stadium and we were late for most things all first half,” said Schmidt. “We were certainly on time leaving the hotel, it just took a long time. It’s certainly not an excuse for being late to things in the first half.”
Ireland did leave Murrayfield with a losing bonus point, the first gained after Six Nations organisers introduced them this season. Following Saturday’s defeat, Schmidt set his players a target of five or six points from their first two matches as Ireland set out to win at Stadio Olimpico and then aim for a try bonus point by scoring four or more.
“The result comes first because five comes before six. To be on 10 would be nice but we can’t get that now,” he said.
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