Experienced trio ruled out of Ireland's opening World Cup encounter
Not the news Irish rugby fans wanted to hear ahead of Saturday...
Ireland are set to kick off their 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign on Saturday afternoon in Bordeaux against Romania, however, they will have to do so without three experienced players who are absent through injury.
In a press conference ahead of Thursday's much-anticipated team announcement, Ireland forwards coach Paul O'Connell provided the worrying update.
Leinster duo Dan Sheehan and Jack Conan are both set to miss out on the clash at the State de Bordeaux due to foot injuries which they entered the tournament with.
Meanwhile Munster loosehead Dave Kilcoyne is also set to be absent owing to a hamstring strain picked up during Ireland's World Cup warm-up victory over Italy.
Ireland are well stocked at hooker and in the back row, meaning the absences of Sheehan and Conan can be dealt with relative ease. However, having lost Cian Healy to a tournament-ending injury already last month, Ireland's loosehead options are now limited, leaving just Andrew Porter and Jeremy Loughman available.
Paul O'Connell provides Ireland injury update:
Despite the unavailability of the experienced trio, the Irish coaching ticket remain confident that they could all be available for selection against Tonga the following weekend.
"Everyone is going well, there are a few guys still finishing their rehab and they won't be involved at the weekend.
"Dave Kilcoyne is struggling a little but, but should be ok next week.
"By and large, we're close to a full bill of health," O'Connell said.
Adding that he feels Ireland are entering the tournament in prime condition and ready to face their World Cup demons, the Munster legend said;
"I think we want to evolve and get better for sure, but it's not about reinventing anything... It's been a brilliant pre-season.
"I think we have a real continuity here with the lads in terms of how we play, in terms of selection, in terms of them knowing each other, and knowing what each other are about, and knowing how to enjoy themselves."
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