Ireland handed fitness boost ahead of next Rugby World Cup clash

Ireland fans watching Rugby World Cup game. Credit: Alamy
Ireland fans watching Rugby World Cup game. Credit: Alamy

Ireland defence coach Simon Easterby is “hopeful” that centre Robbie Henshaw will be fit to face Tonga in their second Rugby World Cup pool clash next weekend.

The Irish are set to potentially have a fully-fit squad to choose from against the islanders, with Henshaw having been a late withdrawal from their Pool B opener.

Andy Farrell’s men began their Rugby World Cup charge with an impressive 82-8 win over Romania on Saturday, scoring 12 tries in total at Stade de Bordeaux.

Fitness boost

It seems Henshaw, who pulled out and was replaced by Mack Hansen on the bench, could join Dave Kilcoyne, Dan Sheehan and Jack Conan in being available.

“I’d say we haven’t ruled anyone out for next week. We’ll certainly assess more people today and tomorrow,” said Easterby ahead of the clash with the Tongans.

“It’s usually the case that things are maybe flagged 24, 48 hours sometimes after a game as opposed to straight after the night of the game.

“So as far as we are aware everyone came through pretty unscathed, so it was great in that respect in terms of getting players game time in the heat, the conditions.

“We’re hopeful that Robbie and others who haven’t taken part for whatever reason are available to us next week and that’s credit to the guys conditioning the boys and also the medics, the way that they’ve worked over the last few weeks in particular.

“At the moment we’re in pretty good shape.”

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Ireland against Romania, however, as they had to come from behind after scrum-half Gabriel Rupanu crossed the line early on.

But tries from Jamison Gibson-Park, Hugo Keenan, Tadhg Beirne (2), Bundee Aki (2), Jonathan Sexton (2), Rob Herring, Peter O’Mahony (2) and Joe McCarthy would then rack up the scoreline as Farrell’s men cruised to victory in their opening pool fixture.

A good start

“It was a good start I guess, in terms of the 80 minutes,” said Easterby after their victory. “First up, any World Cup match you want to get off to a good start.

“We obviously didn’t quite get that start we wanted considering the early try but certainly as the game went on we grew into the game and I think the second-half performance was right up there.

“We have to take into account what we were up against and the conditions but we’re really pleased with the way we finished the game. Not quite as much the way we started.”

READ MORE: Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll gives his verdict on Johnny Sexton’s performance against Romania

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