Ireland’s scrum-half options improving as Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan set to make it

Ireland’s concerns over who will occupy the scrum-half berth for the Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome next week appear to be far less acute today with the news from camp both Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan are expected to be fit.

Conor Murray

Murray missed both of Munster’s recent Champions Cup fixtures with a neck injury sustained while scoring a try away to Zebre at the start of January and skills but kicking coach Richie Murphy was upbeat even though the player is to see a specialist again later this week.

“There’s not really a further update,” he said.

“The one thing I would say is he trained (yesterday). He didn’t do any contact or anything like that but did a bit of running. He’s going to see someone later on in the week but we’re expecting him to be fit for next week.”

Reddan was replaced during Leinster’s Champions Cup draw against Wasps last Saturday but his medial knee injury was described by Murphy yesterday as “quite light”. Recovery has been much quicker than expected and Reddan is expected back in training next week.

Jonathan Sexton, sidelined on medical advice for 12 weeks due to concussion protocols, has also participated in non-contact training drills and February 14, when Ireland face France in Dublin, remains his targeted comeback date.

Unlike England, who revealed the loss of out-half Owen Farrell yesterday for the entire Six Nations, there were no nasty injury surprises in the wake of last weekend’s European action. In fact, the overall picture looked positively rosy.

Most interesting was the announcement Sean O’Brien is considered to be closer to full fitness than Cian Healy. O’Brien is far enough along to be a live contender for some minutes on Friday night when the Ireland Wolfhounds face the England Saxons in Cork with Murphy accepting it would be a big ask for him to come in from the cold against Italy if he doesn’t.

And as for Healy?

“He probably won’t be ready for Friday, but not a million miles away,” said Murphy. “He is judged on a daily basis to see where he’s at. He’s not quite there yet.”

Keith Earls, Kieran Marmion and Robbie Henshaw — all of whom were carrying minor knocks — also took their places for training yesterday, while Dave Kearney should be ready for Italy.


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