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Friday 9 December 2016

Keith Earls has head scare but he should be okay for inclusion

Keith Earls is stretched off
Keith Earls is stretched off

Keith Earls was winging his way to the World Cup until his head came into contact with George North.

The man from Myross may still make it.

But he must have woken to a nightmare scenario after he lay motionless for some time on the turf at The Aviva Stadium.  

“We’ll get him checked out because that’s what being stretchered off demands, that everything is 100 per cent,” reported head coach Joe Schmidt. “After the game, he was totally lucid. He remembered his involvements in the game. They are promising signs, I guess.”

There is the search for form that those uncertain of their place had to find in double-quick time over three test matches.

Schmidt will have to put all of them out of their misery today. The 31-man squad has to be officially disclosed to World Rugby by close of business this evening.

Certainly, Earls and Dave Kearney did everything asked of them, possibly leaving Andrew Trimble, Simon Zebo and Luke Fitzgerald to fight it out for two spots.   Trimble’s lack of minutes works against him, as does Fitzgerald’s reach for rhythm and Zebo’s natural laissez-faire attitude. The latter could find himself outside the wire. The two New Zealanders Nathan White and Michael Bent may duel it out to be the fifth prop with the uncertainty over Cian Healy and Marty Moore making Bent the slight favourite.  

DES BERRY’S IRELAND WORLD CUP SQUAD

(Backs 14): R Kearney; T Bowe, A Trimble, K Earls, L Fitzgerald, D Kearney; R Henshaw, J Payne; J Sexton, I Madigan, P Jackson; C Murray, E Reddan, I Boss;

(Forwards 17): J McGrath, C Healy, M Ross, M Moore, M Bent, R Best, S Cronin, R Strauss; P O’Connell, D Toner, D Ryan, I Henderson; P O’Mahony, J Murphy, S O’Brien, C Henry, J Heaslip.

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