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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 18 May 2021
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Schmidt hopeful that O'Brien will face France after hamstring 'twinge'

Ireland’s openside flanker was ruled out before kick-off in Rome this afternoon.

Murray Kinsella reports from Stadio Olimpico

JOE SCHMIDT SAYS IRELAND are hopeful Sean O’Brien will be available to play in the Six Nations clash with France in Dublin next weekend.

Sean O'Brien O'Brien was understandably dejected on the sidelines. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Leinster back row was set to start today’s 26-3 win over Italy in Rome, but a hamstring injury late in the warm-up at Stadio Olimpico meant he was ruled out.

In O’Brien’s absence, Munster openside Tommy O’Donnell stood in and impressed in a try-scoring performance in Rome. While there is reassurance in that O’Donnell display, Schmidt is hoping to be able to call on O’Brien against the French.

It was the very last thing we did in the warm up,” sighed Schmidt post-match at Stadio Olimpico. “He put his foot down and it slid out from under him and he tweaked his hamstring. His power is really good and it was probably a marginal decision at the time.

“But we didn’t want a repeat of the last time we came here [in 2013], when we did lose a few [players to injury during the game]. It was great that he was able to be replaced by Tommy O’Donnell in the manner that Tommy O’Donnell played.”

As for O’Brien’s potential involvement against France, Schmidt is positive.

“I’d be hopeful, I’d be quietly confident, but we will get a scan on him when we get back to Dublin, probably tomorrow evening. We’ll have an update on Monday I’d say, because that scan will be read and we’ll be able to give some more specific feedback then.”

Sean O'Brien after injuring himself in the warm up O'Brien watches on in Rome. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Hooker Rory Best was replaced by Sean Cronin just six minutes into the second half, and appeared to be in some discomfort as he left the pitch after a head injury.

“Rory’s fine, I just spoke to him,” said Schmidt. “He did get a knock and we decided to err on the side of caution with him by keeping him out of the rest of the game. He’ll follow the return to play protocols, because we want to be fairly careful there.”

Ireland’s caution in that regard is hugely welcome, particularly after events involving George North in Cardiff last night. Having both O’Brien and Best fit to face the French would be a welcome boost for Schmidt.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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