Andy Farrell's Ireland in rude health with just ONE injury absentee

Andy Farrell’s Ireland are in rude health with just ONE injury absentee in his formidably fit World Cup squad – as the head coach prepares to name a vastly changed starting XV to face Tonga

  • Jack Conan has been out with a foot injury since their warm-up clash with Italy 
  • Farrell faces a number of tricky selection decisions preparing to face Tonga 
  • Captain Sexton was in clover against Romania but may be rested in Nantes 
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

Ireland’s World Cup test is about to get serious – and Andy Farrell has a formidably fit squad to tackle the looming challenges.

The head coach is on Wednesday expected to name a vastly changed side for the match against Tonga in Nantes on Saturday from the one that routed Romania on the opening weekend, and he will do so with only one injury absentee from his squad.

Jack Conan has been out with a foot injury since the first warm-up match against Italy last month, and his chances of being involved in next week’s blockbuster against South Africa in Paris look slim.

Otherwise, though, the Irish camp is in rude health. Ensuring it remains that way after the Tongan game, and with the fearsome toll taken by the Springboks in mind, will be a priority for this weekend.

‘I think the signs are really positive in terms of being able to train fully next week, and hopefully he will be available for South Africa,’ team manager Mick Kearney said yesterday in ruling Conan out of the Tonga clash.

Andy Farrell has a formidably fit squad at his disposal as Ireland continue their campaign

The head coach may be tempted to call upon captain Johnny Sexton again after his fine form against Romania

One of the big decisions facing Farrell will, not for the first time, involve Johnny Sexton. The captain’s sensational return against Romania saw him score 24 points after six months out, and move within nine of Ronan O’Gara’s Irish record.

The temptation to let him loose again a week later will be great, but the risk of him getting injured before the South Africa match will likely influence Farrell’s thinking.

Dave Kilcoyne, Robbie Henshaw and Dan Sheehan have all been cleared fit for selection, with the return of the latter a major boost. However, given his importance, the world-class hooker is another who may be handled with care for this weekend.

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