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O'Mahony and Aki face tight turnaround to be fit for Japan in six days

The pair suffered head knocks against Scotland, while Joe Schmidt says Johnny Sexton is ‘fine’.

O'Mahony on the bench after being forced off in the first half.
O'Mahony on the bench after being forced off in the first half.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

BOTH PETER O’MAHONY and Bundee Aki are on the clock and face a tight turnaround to be fit for Ireland’s second World Cup pool outing against Japan on Saturday.

The pair suffered head knocks during this morning’s four-try win over Scotland in Yokohama and having failed their Head Injury Assessments, are now in a race against time to be available for the round two clash against the host nation.

Aki looked in sharp form before his World Cup debut was cut short after just 21 minutes, while O’Mahony was also forced off during the first half of Ireland’s 27-3 Pool A victory.

Speaking afterwards, Joe Schmidt said both players are ‘fine now’ but they’ll have to go through the return-to-play protocols and are under pressure with the six-day turnaround for Japan. 

“They’re both fine now, which is reassuring,” the Ireland head coach said.

“We’ll have to wait and they have to go through the protocol of HIA2 and HIA3 to determine whether or not they have suffered a concussion.

“For us, six days is the minimum to turn around after a concussion, so we’ll just see how they are symptomatically but right here, right now, there’s a bit of reassurance.”

Jack Conan produced a big shift off the bench for O’Mahony, while Chris Farrell was outstanding throughout his cameo in midfield alongside Garry Ringrose after replacing Connacht’s Aki.

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joe-schmidt-speaks-with-jonathan-sexton-after-the-game Schmidt said Sexton is 'fine'. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland produced a physically dominant display to get their campaign up and running in emphatic fashion, with James Ryan, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong crossing in the first half, before Andrew Conway tacked on the bonus-point score in the second.

Schmidt was afforded the luxury of wrapping key players up in cotton wool for the final quarter, with Cian Healy, Furlong, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton among those hauled off after the bonus-point had been sealed.

Sexton required treatment at various stages of the contest and passed placekicking duties onto Murray after initially converting Ireland’s opening try, but Schmidt said they were being ‘super cautious’ with the out-half.

“He was able to kick,” Schmidt explained. “That’s us being super cautious because we got such a good start. We felt we could cover him up a little bit and we got him and Conor off reasonably early.

“I thought they were really big for us in the pivot area today with their kicking game and just their game sense. They controlled things really well for us in the first half and got us through the first 15 minutes of the second half and then I felt we were far enough in front close to that last quarter to get them off and get them ready for a six-day turnaround, which is going to be tight with Japan having an eight-day turnaround.”

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Ryan Bailey

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