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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020

Ireland and Schmidt dealt blow as Rory Best is ruled out of Boks clash

The 32-year-old hooker has succumbed to the calf injury that has hindered his training all week.

Best was a key figure for Schmidt's side last season.
Best was a key figure for Schmidt's side last season.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IRELAND COACH JOE Schmidt has been dealt another injury blow as hooker Rory Best has been ruled out of Saturday’s November Test against South Africa in Dublin.

The Ulsterman, one of the key leaders in the Irish group, has been struggling with a calf injury all week and the major doubts over his recovery have proven to be justified.

The IRFU have confirmed that Best was ruled out yesterday evening, although medical staff are confident that the hooker will make a full recovery in time to face Australia later this month.

While it was always likely that Best would be rested for the Georgia clash, “a decision has been made not to risk him this weekend,” says an IRFU medical bulletin.

With the 32-year-old unavailable it appears likely that Schmidt will turn to Leinster hooker Sean Cronin to wear the number two shirt against the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium.

Cronin has been in fine form with ball in hand for his province and will add pace and excellent running lines in that regard, although the breakdown, in-contact and set-piece work of Best will surely be missed against a powerful Boks outfit.

Ireland will name their starting team and replacements tomorrow afternoon at Carton House, with the hope being that tighthead prop Mike Ross has recovered from his recent groin issues.

Should the 34-year-old fail to prove his fitness, Schmidt would be without his entire first-choice front row for a major test against Heyneke Meyer’s side. Ross has come through training positively this week, but is lacking in match fitness having last played for Leinster on the 4th of October.

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Murray Kinsella

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