DECLAN KIDNEY EXPECTS to have his full complement of stars available for Sunday’s win-or-bust game against Italy, despite the depleted numbers at training in Dunedin this morning.
The Irish squad had their first session at the city’s famous Carisbrook Stadium earlier today, fully aware that a shock defeat by their Six Nations rivals will seal their spot on the first flight home.
Three of Kidney’s expected starters — Rob Kearney (knee), Keith Earls (leg) and Sean O’Brien (arm) — all watched the workout from the sidelines, but their absence was quickly downplayed as a “precaution” by the camp.
All three are expected to return to training in the morning when they have fully recovered from the bruises picked up during the win over Russia.
The squad were also boosted by Gordon D’Arcy’s return to action. The midfielder, who was forced out of Sunday’s win with a hamstring strain, resumed full training and should be ready to slot back in at inside centre if called upon to face the Azzurri.
Tommy Bowe (calf) and Paul O’Connell (hamstring), two of last weekend’s other absentees, also togged out this morning as they were eased back to work with some light drills.