By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, Feb 10 – Ireland may have to complete their bid for a Six Nations title without centre Robbie Henshaw but are more hopeful about prop Tadhg Furlong after the pair were injured in an otherwise stress-free 56-19 win over Italy on Saturday.
Ireland ran in eight tries to make it two wins from two but lost Furlong to a hamstring injury early on and his British and Irish Lions team mate Henshaw left the pitch with his shoulder in a sling after getting injured scoring his second try.
“He’s a lot more conformable now which is promising but what’s not promising is the degree of discomfort he was in,” coach Joe Schmidt told a news conference, saying Henshaw could potentially miss the championship and that Ireland will know for sure on Sunday.
“Tadhg less so, he just felt a tightening. For a tighthead prop he probably just moves a little bit more quickly than he should. We will check him out tomorrow but we’d be hopeful that he will still be okay in two weeks time.”
Henshaw’s potential absence would leave Ireland vulnerable in midfield where they were already without Garry Ringrose, although Schmidt said the young centre was making really good progress recuperating from an ankle injury and has a shot at returning for Leinster during next weekend’s Six Nations break.
If Ringrose does not feature for the province, throwing him in against Wales would be a tough call, Schmidt said, adding Munster centre Chris Farrell as another option to partner Bundee Aki after the pair impressed against Argentina last year.
Schmidt said he was very happy with the way Ireland started in attack and less concerned by the consolation tries they conceded after he emptied the bench early in the second half.
“If you had said to me two weeks ago that you could have nine points and a 39-point differential, I would have bitten your hand off,” the New Zealander said.
Schmidt’s opposite number Conor O’Shea said he had seen enough in three halves of rugby against Six Nations favourites Ireland and England to show his side can do something in the championship.
“We knew the first six days were going to be the hardest and that this was the day that was going to be the hardest for many a year,” the former Ireland international said.
“We asked for a reaction at halftime, we don’t want a pat on the back but I think people saw this team’s ability in the second half. We think we’ve got opportunities in the coming three matches if we hold the ball and play the way we can.” (Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Ed Osmond)