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Schmidt could save Best for the last international

It was all quiet on the Ireland injury front, according to Ireland Team Manager Mick Kearney.

The Irish front row could well have to do without their primary scrummaging hooker Rory Best as he continues to recuperate from a calf injury.

The Ulster captain has commenced light running and there is a positive prognosis with a decision to be made on whether it would be more beneficial to wait for Australia on Saturday week rather than risk the serious prowess Georgia will bring to the scrum.

This would leave coach Joe Schmidt to choose between one of two Leinster men in Seán Cronin or Richardt Strauss, who is crying out for game time after a severe hamstring injury.

It could also be the time to give Connacht's Rodney Ah You a baptism into international rugby against one of the most formidable scrummaging units in the world game.

The argument here is over whether to give Mike Ross time to overcome the battering taken in the scrum, or to put him in again on the basis that he is badly in need of match sharpness.

Munster's Dave Kilcoyne will also be well aware of how consistently Jack McGrath has risen to the challenge presented by the long-term absence of Cian Healy for Leinster and Ireland.

The case of Jared Payne is unknown. He has a sprain to his foot and will undergo further scans today in conjunction with a medical review to shine a light on the extent of his damage.

Leinster's Gordon D'Arcy is in line to return, either way, and Ulster's Stuart Olding is also in the ball park with Robbie Henshaw capable of wearing twelve or thirteen.

The same scenario still holds true this week. Schmidt already knows what D'Arcy brings to the table.


The advance of Olding is a different matter altogether. He has had to sit and suffer behind Stuart McCloskey at Ulster, while switching between centre and full-back.

However, Ulster's Chris Henry condition is under investigation after he experienced weakness on the morning of last Saturday's international. He is not in camp at this time.

The back row remains an interesting conundrum to solve. Rhys Ruddock did remarkably well to slot in at openside against South Africa. Presumably, he would favour a return to the blindside as Peter O'Mahony took a number of heavy collisions, none more so than from his scrum-half Conor Murray.

The fact that Tommy O'Donnell was summoned on to the bench when Henry cried off and from it when O'Mahony retired puts him firmly in pole position.

In addition, Schmidt called up backs Darren Cave and Andrew Conway and forwards Tadhg Furlong and Robin Copeland to assist in the preparation for Georgia.

When asked whether any of this quartet could be parachuted into the Ireland squad for Saturday, Kearney replied: "Anything is possible."