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Irish injury worries ease ahead of pool decider

Minor niggles for players including Paul O’Connell should clear up well ahead of Sunday’s crucial RWC fixture

Paul McNaughton
Paul McNaughton
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

IRELAND SHOULD HAVE a clean bill of health for their final pool clash against Italy, team manager Paul McNaughton confirmed on Monday.

The Irish squad and management team have already travelled to Dunedin ahead of Sunday’s vital fixture, and Rob Kearney (knee), Sean O’Brien (bruised arm) and Keith Earls (mild dead leg) are all expected to make full recoveries from the respective injuries they picked up against Russia.

Declan Kidney’s other concerns – Paul O’Connell, Gordon D’Arcy and Tommy Bowe – are due to return to training on Tuesday.

McNaughton reiterated that there is a very upbeat and positive mood in the Irish camp at the moment and said management were delighted that several of the players who turned out over the weekend had put themselves in contention for selection against Italy.

He told reporters:

“Nobody is thinking about the draw or anything like that, nobody is looking beyond the (Italy) game. We were all very pleased to beat Australia but Italy was the game we had to win.”

He added: “The guys felt it was mission accomplished. I think some players put their hands up. Some of those players got their first game or first start, we see it as dual purpose – everybody contributes and it allows people to put up their hand and say ‘consider me’.”

Elsewhere, Ireland’s defensive coach, Les Kiss, has opened up about his so-called ‘choke tackle’ technique and admitted that other countries are now starting to implement their own version of the move. The tactic sees players grabbing opponents in possession of the ball and preventing them from grounding play in order that Ireland might then win the put in at the next scrum.

“Some things you can’t keep under cover for too long. Certainly some teams are starting to look at the technique in a certain way,” Kiss conceded.

“We have a lot of tools in our box to use and we don’t just rely on the choke tackle. That’s the beauty of this side, we can put pressure on in different ways.”

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