Monday 18 December 2017

O'Donnell out of World Cup

Murphy and Henry ready to pounce as Trimble waits

Tommy O’Donnell in action against Wales last weekend
Tommy O’Donnell in action against Wales last weekend
Tommy O’Donnell on the ground after sustaining the injury which has ended his World Cup dream

Tommy O'Donnell's will have the rest of the summer to deal with the hip dislocation that has ruined his World Cup dream.

The Munster flanker was right in the thick of the action at The Millennium Stadium in making numerous hits, carries and being a real pest at the breakdown.

It was a trademark athletic drive that proved his undoing late on as defenders on both sides squeezed O'Donnell for room with the pressure in the fall forcing the damage to his hip.

When any player is removed on a motorised stretcher with gas taken for the intensity of the pain, the outcome is rarely insignificant.

The University Hospital Wales discovered a dislocation which means O'Donnell will be limited to non-weight bearing activity for at least six weeks, thus ending his RWC odyssey.

Sadly, the nature of the business means Joe Schmidt has already surveyed how the Tipperary's man misfortune will become someone else's fortune.

At the moment, Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Peter O'Mahony are guaranteed, injury-permitting, to make the final cut.

O'Donnell joins Rhys Ruddock on the sidelines with Iain Henderson to be accommodated in the middle or back row and Jordi Murphy, Chris Henry, Jack Conan still in the reckoning.

Schmidt has already spoken about how he is leaning towards a 17/14 split in the 31-man squad.

The forward pack could be spread between five props, Michael Bent benefiting from playing both sides, three hookers, four locks and five loose forwards.

It remains to be seen whether Dan Tuohy can convince Schmidt he should join Paul O'Connell, Devin Toner and, surely, Ryan in the engine room.

The big question is where does Henderson fit into the equation? He was outshone by Ryan in Cardiff and did not take advantage of his special gifts.

Elbow room

However, if he is listed at lock, the Ulster specimen does give Schmidt the elbow room to take Murphy and the specialist skills of Henry.

Meanwhile, Andrew Trimble will have a precautionary scan on the foot injury that caused his removal on Saturday.

The mere fact Ireland's 2014 Player of the Year encountered extended difficulty with a toe injury is a cause for greater concern than normally applies.

The Ulsterman was full of energy and accuracy in the air, in the tackle and on the ball as the one out-and-out wing from the eight involved in the squad, even though it is unlikely Schmidt would envisage playing Simon Zebo or Craig Gilroy in any other position.

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