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Ireland positive on Henshaw and Kearney injuries as Best recovers from gut ache

Joe Schmidt was pleased with how his side dealt with the loss of Rory Best.

Murray Kinsella reports from Stadio Olimpico

JOE SCHMIDT DOESN’T expect injuries to Robbie Henshaw and Rob Kearney to prove serious, after both men were forced off in the second half of Ireland’s 63-10 win over Italy in Rome.

Henshaw was replaced by Craig Gilroy in the 47th minute after an excellent performance, but Schmidt said it was merely due a dead leg.

Conor O'Shea and Joe Schmidt before the game Joe Schmidt with Conor O'Shea before today's game in Rome. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Robbie got a corked thigh and there’s no doubt he could have played on. But in the context of the scoreline at the time being, I think, 35-10, we just felt that if you’ve got a bruise like that you do have a greater potential to get a soft tissue injury.

“So he doesn’t have that. I’d say in 48 hours the haematoma will have released and he’ll be fine.”

As for Kearney, Schmidt stated that the fullback took a blow to the bicep late on in the game.

“I think he got the point of an elbow on the bicep, I haven’t really got a chance to talk to Rob. We just decided to get him off really. With both those injuries – I don’t think we had anything else – I think over the next 48 hours we will have clarity.”

Ireland captain Rory Best was a late withdrawal from the game due to a stomach bug and he watched the game from the team hotel in Rome.

Schmidt is confident that the hooker will be fully fit and ready to go by the time Ireland come together in Monaghan next Wednesday for a mini-camp, following several days of recuperation.

The Ireland head coach was pleased at how his side managed the loss of their leader at such a late stage.

“I think sometimes it’s good to have those challenges thrown at us because we’re going to get those, and they come in all different shapes and sizes,” said Schmidt.

“To be slightly put off your stride and demonstrate that you can mix different combinations, that you can seamlessly slot one guy in for another, I think that helps give confidence to the group.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt was pleased with his side's nine-try performance. Source: Giuseppe Fama/INPHO

“Once we ruled Rory out this morning, reasonably late around 11.30am, as important as Rory is, we didn’t really focus on Rory at all or speak about Rory.

“We said, ‘Right, Niall, what a great opportunity for you’ and James Tracy, who flew over yesterday evening as cover, he spent plenty of time with the others making sure he was up to speed and he was set to go as well.

“You tend to focus on what’s most important in the preparation for what’s coming up. We’ll catch up with Rory back in the hotel and I’d be confident that by next Wednesday, he’ll be fine.

“You get a little bit dehydrated and a little bit flat when you’ve had a bit of a gut ache, so in the end he was better off resting up today.”

Ireland ran in nine tries as Best kept his feet up, with CJ Stander and Craig Gilroy both helping themselves to hat-tricks.

The most pleasing aspect of the victory for Schmidt was to see his side execute on the things that had let them down a week previously in their defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

“The most satisfying thing is that we got a performance. We didn’t just throw away what we did in Scotland. Some of what we did in Scotland… when you come from 21-5 down to 22-21 in front, you’ve obviously done some things that are positive.

“We tried to maintain a lot of that and build on the consistency of it, and probably just build on the start and the continuation of pressure. We didn’t release the pressure valve.”

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