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Saturday 10 December 2016

Irish pair worry Joe

O'Brien and Payne remain serious injury doubts for Australia finale

Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has been hit with late injury concerns to flanker Seán O'Brien and outside centre Jared Payne.

The absence of one or both would seriously undermine Ireland's plan against Australia to make it three out of four from the November series at The Aviva Stadium this evening.

"The Captain's Run is normally just a stretch-your-legs type session, so we made a couple of decisions to rest Jared and Seán," said defence coach Andy Farrell.

"We will give them an extra 24 hours and assess them in the morning to give them that time to regenerate themselves."

The worry is that both men could be unlikely to make the deadline given the light nature of the Captain's Run and how that was considered not in their best interests.

It is believed O'Brien is the greater concern because he was not even seen on the pitch at the Aviva.

"It is not unusual," reassured Farrell.

"The work has been done. It is not a 'biggie' for us whatsoever.

"We want to give them a chance to feel 100% and get out their and do their best."

The contingency plans include Peter O'Mahony's recall from Munster and the call-up of inside centre Rory Scannell.

Leinster flanker Josh van der Flier would be the obvious choice to replace O'Brien.

He would have special responsibility for neutralising the double-dip poaching effect of David Pocock and Michael Hooper at the breakdown.

Should Payne fail to come through, Keith Earls could move in one slot to thirteen to allow Simon Zebo to resume on the left wing.

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