Kobe, Japan (AFP/APP): Ireland coach Joe Schmidt played down fresh injury concerns on Thursday after Joey Carbery was a late withdrawal and Johnny Sexton came off at half-time in the 35-0 win over Russia.
Schmidt said there were no problems for Sexton, the injury-troubled World Player of the Year who was coming back from a thigh problem picked up in Ireland’s opening match. “Johnny’s all good,” Schmidt told reporters, also dismissing any worries over fly-half Joey Carbery, who was selected among the replacements but pulled out shortly before kick-off.
“Joey is good. He would have been okay to play but Conor Murray was very keen to play,” said Schmidt, referring to the Irish first-choice scrum-half. However, Jordi Murphy, who only received a World Cup call-up after back-row Jack Conan was ruled out of the tournament with a broken foot, was helped off the pitch after 26 minutes.
Murphy has “got squeezed in the ribs, he may have popped a rib. We are going to get him checked out,” said Schmidt, adding: “It’s disappointing because we only planned to play him for 40 minutes anyway.” Fullback Rob Kearney, who failed a head injury assessment during last week’s shock 19-12 defeat by Japan, was also substituted after 49 minutes.
“Rob is okay. We were going to give him 50 or 60 (minutes). He felt a little bit tight in the groin and we felt it was about time to take him off anyway,” said the coach. The Irish are still without star centre Robbie Henshaw since the beginning of the tournament with hamstring trouble and Chris Farrell is also sidelined with concussion.
Ireland appeared to struggle in midfield during the win over Russia, with Bundee Aki in particular making a string of handling errors.