Ireland prop Cian Healy.

Call-up for Cian Healy in Ireland's thoughts amid doubts over Henshaw

The Ireland centre will miss a couple of weeks at least with his hamstring injury.

AS SOON AS Cian Healy shared the training montage on his social media, you wondered how Ireland could get him back involved.

The 125-times capped loosehead prop has returned to training well ahead of schedule and the video showed just how agile and explosive he is after overcoming the calf injury that saw him ruled out of taking his place in Ireland’s World Cup squad.

Given the specialist nature of his position, Andy Farrell seemingly felt he couldn’t afford to carry Healy while he was injured. Upon announcing his final 33-man World Cup squad, Farrell did indicate that Healy might be a possible injury replacement call-up later in the tournament, but they had to move on without him at that stage.

As he beat all his rehabilitation markers earlier than expected, Healy surely started hoping the door would open for him again. No one wishes injury on others, of course, but given that this would be his last chance at the World Cup, Healy must be hoping that Ireland need to call on him.

And with Robbie Henshaw’s worrying hamstring injury, which will sideline him for a few weeks at the minimum, that door may be about to open. One man’s misfortune can be another’s good luck. 

Ireland haven’t made any decision on Henshaw, according to Farrell, but there is clearly major doubt around his ongoing participation in this World Cup. Having pulled out of the opening game against Romania with a hamstring issue, he returned to feature off the bench against Tonga and South Africa, but has re-injured the hamstring. It’s bad news for Ireland given Henshaw’s class, which was saw on display against the Springboks.

Perhaps Ireland will decide to carry Henshaw in the hope that he can feature again in they reach the semi-finals or final. He’s a player worth waiting for. If they’re to be successful, he deserves to be part of it all.

The same applies to 35-year-old Healy, though. He has been through the wringer himself, coming very close to retiring in 2015 but battling back to continue as a key man for Leinster and Ireland. No one would begrudge him a belated call-up to this World Cup.

robbie-henshaw Henshaw has been hugely unlucky. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

If Henshaw ends up being ruled out, Ireland could replace him with a player of any position. It doesn’t need to be a centre or a back. And given that the World Cup is heading into the business end, it seems unlikely that Ireland will need lots of players in every position, barring an injury disaster. They could surely get by with Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, and Stuart McCloskey as their centres.

The smartest thing to do is wait a few more days. Firstly, Ireland will see if they can secure their quarter-final place, making this entire conversation valid, and they can also find out if there are any more injuries to come against Scotland tomorrow night.

That’s what Farrell pointed to when asked if Healy could come back into the mix.

“When we have a look at whatever else throws itself up at the weekend, and we’ve been fortunate so far, haven’t we?” said Farrell.

“It all depends in regards to if someone else goes down, what does the squad need? What do we need to prepare properly?

“It’s not always a replacement like-for-like and Cian is obviously one of those players who’s at the forefront of our minds.”

It remains to be seen what happens on that front and Farrell has more pressing things on his mind right now – namely beating Scotland tomorrow.

The Ireland boss confirmed two changes to his starting team yesterday, with Iain Henderson and Dan Sheehan coming in for James Ryan and Rónan Kelleher, both of whom drop to the bench.

The decision to start Henderson ahead of Ryan, who is obviously fit enough to play after overcoming a wrist injury, is an interesting one.

“Because he deserves it,” said Farrell when asked why he picked Henderson. “He’s been excellent, outstanding as a leader all the way through pre-season. It’s a new enough role for him being on the bench. It wouldn’t be that many times that he’s started on the bench throughout his career.

iain-henderson Ireland lock Iain Henderson. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“He’s not just added to the team and been selfless in that regard, which you would expect him to do as a leader of the side, but he has performed really, really strongly when he’s come on, so he deserves his chance.

“And not just that – big, young Joe McCarthy is part of the equation as well. The competition for places in the second row is exactly where it should be and they all know that.”

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton embraced the knock-out feel of tomorrow’s game, with both sides capable of securing a quarter-final.

Ireland are the firm favourites but Sexton and co. are paying the Scots plenty of respect.

“It was always going to come down to this game,” said Sexton. “It was possible that Scotland could be the unbeaten team and us needing to chase it to win, but ultimately it comes down to a must-win.

“So yeah, it’s exactly where we want to be. We’ve been lucky enough with injuries to date so from that regard we’re in a good place. I think with our form we still feel that there’s more in us.

“Parts of the South Africa game, we look back and if we were on the other side of the result we’d be taking huge lessons from it in terms of some of our parts of the game didn’t click.

“So we still feel there are some parts of our game we need to improve if we want to go further in this competition and that comes down to this weekend.”

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