Saturday, July 13, 2024

No fresh injury worries for Ireland ahead of Saturday’s clash with South Africa

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Ireland have no further injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s series finale against South Africa after losing Dan Sheehan and Craig Casey during a bruising opening Test defeat.

Prop Andrew Porter required treatment on a cut hand in the 27-20 loss in Pretoria, while Jamie Osborne (leg), Bundee Aki (shoulder), James Lowe (thigh) and Robbie Henshaw (concussion) also suffered knocks.

All 35 members of Andy Farrell’s squad trained on Wednesday, including Connacht hooker Dave Heffernan and uncapped Ulster back Nathan Doak, who flew out to replace stricken pair Sheehan and Casey.

Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby
Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby gave a positive fitness update on Wednesday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ireland will attempt to level the two-match series against the world champions on Saturday evening in Durban.

“Everyone trained today,” said Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby, quoted by the Irish Times.

“Heff (Heffernan) and Doaky (Doak) came in and took part in the session. Everyone apart from Dan and Craig were available and training.”

Ireland improved following an underwhelming first-half display against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld Stadium but were ultimately beaten by a late penalty try during a frantic finish.

Easterby has been impressed with the group’s response to a first loss to the Springboks since 2016 and feels there is plenty of reason for optimism going into this weekend’s rematch.

“We didn’t expect anything different from the lads,” he said. “When you put in a performance that doesn’t match the levels the lads have put in across the last couple of seasons, then there is clearly disappointment.

“There is no better group to take responsibility for that, to get a second opportunity this weekend.

“We grew massively into the game, and we finished strongly. We will take a lot of confidence from that.

“You can’t give a side like South Africa the type of space that we allowed because they have too many quality players to put you under pressure and take advantage of that space.”

While head coach Farrell must make at least two changes to his starting XV, which is due to be announced on Thursday, Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus has stuck with an unchanged 23.

“That’s obviously a vote of confidence after their victory and it’s not unusual I guess,” Easterby said. “It gives those guys a chance to back up with another performance.

“We expected a similar type of team and they’ve gone with the same 23, which probably makes it a little easier previewing them because we know a lot of their individuals and we’re aware of a lot of strengths in their team.”

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