Ireland report no further injury concerns ahead of second Test against Springboks

Jamie Osborne, Bundee Aki, James Lowe and Robbie Henshaw all trained on Wednesday

Robbie Henshaw is available for selection for Ireland's second Test against South Africa after coming through concussion protocols. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images

Ireland have no further injury concerns for Saturday’s second Test against South Africa at Kings Park in Durban. Hooker Dan Sheehan and scrumhalf Craig Casey were ruled out of the game earlier in the week but the issues that arose initially following a bruising 27-20 defeat to the Springboks in Pretoria have cleared up.

Jamie Osborne (leg), Bundee Aki (shoulder), James Lowe (thigh) and Robbie Henshaw (concussion) are available for selection as they took part in Wednesday’s training session in Northwood School.

“Yeah, everyone trained today,” confirmed Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby. “Heff [Dave Heffernan] and Doaky [Nathan Doak] came in and took part in the session. Everyone apart from Dan [Sheehan] and Craig [Casey] were available and training.”

Easterby was asked about the positive reaction from the group following the disappointment of Pretoria. “We didn’t expect anything different from the lads. When you put in a performance that doesn’t match the levels the lads have put in across the last couple of seasons, then there is clearly disappointment.


“There is no better group to take responsibility for that, to get a second opportunity this weekend.”

As defence coach he was asked about the initial disconnect that gave the Springboks latitude they mightn’t have expected before Ireland got back to a more resolute system.

He said: “They put the ball into space which we anticipated but we didn’t deal with that as well as we should have done. Sometimes a team will find a way to get into space, we didn’t shut that down in the way that we would normally do. There are plenty of fixes for that, but essentially we have to be better on both sides of the ball, especially in the first half.

“As the game went on, we grew massively into the game, and we finished strongly. We will take a lot of confidence from that. You can’t give a side like South Africa the type of space that we allowed because they have too many quality players to put you under pressure and take advantage of that space.

“If you lose a few collisions, you are on the back foot, it is a bit of a spiral of negativity. You have to try and create something within that, whether that is the comms [communications], whether that is individuals working a little bit smarter and finding a way to find solutions.

“It is probably a combination of things that we didn’t quite get right in that first 20 minutes when they got some decent gains from us. After half-time we fixed a lot of those things, and we were much more difficult to break down. I thought in the second half we were much better on both sides of the ball.”

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer