O'Mahony Ireland's 'biggest concern'

Published Tuesday, 25 February 2014
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Flanker Peter O'Mahony is Ireland's biggest concern ahead of next week's penultimate game against Italy in the 6 Nations.

O'Mahony Ireland's 'biggest concern'
Ireland took on England in the Six Nations at the weekend. (© PA)

Head coach Schmidt hopes O'Mahony will recover from the hamstring strain suffered during their 13-10 England defeat at the weekend in time to feature in the 8 March clash.

Schmidt admitted, however, that he may take the chance to rest some of his injured players and hand starting chances to in-form squad stars.

Ulster outside-half Paddy Jackson and loose-forwards Jordi Murphy and Tommy O'Donnell could now come into contention to start against the Azzurri.

"Peter O'Mahony has no respect for his body," said Schmidt.

"He's had a fantastic series so far.

"There is a little bit of blood [on the hamstring scan], but no tear so those things normally clear up quickly.

"It's a case of managing Pete this week so that he can train next week."

Schmidt also expects Brian O'Driscoll to overcome his calf trouble to turn out against Italy.

"Brian O'Driscoll was cramp, he was walking fine after the game, he trained individually on Monday and he should train Wednesday and Thursday this week.

"He actually hasn't had that much game time this year in total, so he's pretty fresh."

Schmidt also revealed fly-half Jonny Sexton has his hand in a splint as he battles thumb trouble, but could still turn out for Racing Metro against Castres in the French Top 14 this weekend.

If he does play for his club side, Schmidt may yet choose to rest Sexton against Italy, but the head coach is not overly concerned for his fitness.

Schmidt said of the injury: "It wasn't bad, he's fully functioning and can still pass and do everything.

"But we're going to get some more feedback over the next few days. Hopefully, he'll be fine.

"He's gone back to Paris and we've got some scans to be read as well and we'll get some feedback on that by Thursday when we're next out.

"I predict that he should still be available for the final two games."

Schmidt said Ireland will work to have both Sexton and Munster captain O'Mahony fit for Ireland's clash with Italy.

Ireland head to France for what could well become the Six Nations title decider on Saturday, 15 March.

"One of the things about making changes, it's probably something you learn as you go and particularly for John [Plumtree] and myself it's new, but if players don't play against Italy, then by the time it comes to France they'll have played one game in five weeks before kick-off.

"There is that real balance.

"There may be guys like Jonny or Peter O'Mahony who may be starting to get some wear and tear about them.

"And that may guide us in a particular direction regarding selection.

"There has been a weekend off prior to England, there's a weekend off prior to Italy.

"These are massive games, but there is breathing space in between to get players freshened up."

© UTV News
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