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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 18 January, 2019

Schmidt's back-row picture becomes clearer as trio miss training

Tommy O’Donnell, Jack Conan and Dan Leavy sat out this morning’s squad session.

Tommy O'Donnell sat out training this morning.
Tommy O'Donnell sat out training this morning.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

THREE OF IRELAND’S back-row options for Saturday’s November series opener against South Africa didn’t train today, with most concern surrounding the fitness of Tommy O’Donnell who will undergo a scan on a shoulder injury.

The Munster flanker sustained the problem during Monday’s squad training at Carton House and sat out this morning’s session along with Leinster duo Jack Conan and Dan Leavy.

O’Donnell will today have the issue assessed further, although Simon Easterby downplayed the severity of the injury by insisting it wasn’t serious.

Conan was given the morning off because of a ‘heavy workload’, while Leavy — who played for Leinster against Glasgow at the weekend — is feeling tightness in his right hamstring.

“It’s just management at this stage,” Easterby explained. “It would be nice if you had a clean bill of health and you’ve got everyone available to train but we know that’s not always the case.

“It’s just about being sensible and earmarking players who may have potential weaknesses. If you know about things, at least you can prepare for that and not take any unnecessary risks.”

With the trio now considered doubts for Saturday’s clash with the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium, Joe Schmidt’s back-row selection picture has become a lot clearer.

Jonathan Sexton and Devin Toner Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Lions trio of Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and CJ Stander are the frontrunners to start but Rhys Ruddock — arguably the most in-form of Schmidt’s options — is pushing hard for inclusion and at the very least is likely to be in the matchday squad now.

“Every chance I get in training I’m carrying out my role as best I can,” Ruddock said at the team hotel.

“Just trying to apply myself as best I can during the week and whatever happens on the selection front happens.

“You can’t overthink it and look for opportunities that aren’t there. It’s no different to how you train with your province but just making sure you’re giving 100%.”

After back-to-back squad sessions, Ireland will have a down day on Wednesday before a final training morning on Thursday before Schmidt names his team to face South Africa at 1.45pm.

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