AFTER THE CRUELTY of Tommy O’Donnell’s hip dislocation last weekend in Cardiff, one could have forgiven Irish players for approaching this evening’s clash with Scotland with a hint of trepidation.
That’s not how professional sportspeople hurl themselves into competition of course, but there’s certainly relief in Ireland having avoided any further injuries in this 28-22 win over the Scots.
Paul O’Connell made his first appearance of the season off the bench. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Joe Schmidt reported that some of the 14 players making their first starts of the season had suffered with cramp in the closing stages, but overall he was a relived man to come through without any repeats of O’Donnell’s misfortune.
“Probably the real positive is that we can report what we believe is a clean bill of health,” said Schmidt post-game at the Aviva Stadium.
Man of the match Simon Zebo was limping as he walked ashore in the closing minutes after being replaced by Paddy Jackson, but Schmidt insisted there were no concerns over the Munster man.
“Purely cramp, he stretched it out and probably could have run it out, but you just run the risk of a calf strain then. There is no strain, he’s fine.”
Tommy Bowe iced his right knee after being replaced. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
For those with strong memories of Geordan Murphy, David Wallace and Felix Jones, there will be further moments of tension in the final two warm-up clashes with Wales and England, but for now it’s good news.
Among those who possibly felt the pace of Test rugby in Dublin was debutant Jack Conan, who delivered some demonstrations of his ability in a performance that also left him with a host of ‘work ons’.
“But he’s got all the physical attributes, he’s hard working, he’s intelligent and I think those things will stand him in good stead. We’ll have a thorough look at his game today and make some assessments based on that, but the one thing I would say is that we had the confidence to select him because of the way he’s slotted in at training.
“I certainly saw him do some good things today and some things he’ll learn from. I don’t know too many people who make their debut and don’t have a mixed bag.”
‘He gave the players around him a real confidence’ – Schmidt on ZeboSchmidt: ‘It was a genuine test and we showed a bit of rustiness’