Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations campaign has been plagued with injuries to key players. The team are no longer able to retain their title, so the final two games of the tournament will serve as a chance for Joe Schmidt’s men to regain some pride. However amid all this doom and gloom there is a ray of hope- assistant coach Richie Murphy today confirmed Jared Payne who missed last weekend’s loss in Twickenham is set to be fit for next weekend’s home fixture against Italy. Murphy also reveled scrum-half Conor Murray is expected to play against the Italians despite receiving eight stitches after an incident with England’s Mike Brown.Brown kicked Murray after repeatedly swinging his boot in an attempt to dislodge the ball from the hands of the prone Munster man.
Murray is resting for the time being and thankfully there was no damaged sustained to his eye apart from the gash. Jared Payne is recovering well from his hamstring injury which he suffered in the loss against France and is expected to begin training with the full squad once again early next week. The Irish squad is still reeling from the loss of players such as Sean O’Brien, Dave Kearney and Mike McCarthy. The absence of such players was certainly a contributing factor to Ireland’s disappointing title defence.
The Irish management team however insists there are positives to take out of Saturday’s game such as the impressive debuts of Stuart McCloskey, Josh van der Flier and Ultan Dillane. Joe Schmidt could use the upcoming games against Italy and Scotland to experiment with his starting 15. With so many battered and bruised bodies the younger players in the squad may be given a chance on the big stage to impress the coach.