- Sheehan could miss entire pool stage
- Samoa game a chance for replacement hookers to stake claim
- Ireland must aim to be more clinical if they are to lift trophy
Ireland’s attack coach, Mike Catt, has expressed uncertainty regarding the extent of Dan Sheehan’s injury, conceding that losing the hooker for the upcoming World Cup would be a significant setback.
Following his foot injury during the victory over England on Saturday, Sheehan did not travel with the team to France for the match against Samoa. Catt mentioned that Sheehan was consulting a specialist in Dublin, and a more detailed update would be available later this week.
Sheehan could miss entire pool stage
Catt acknowledged Sheehan’s prowess, labeling him one of the best hookers globally at the moment. He added that his absence would be felt in any team. In Sheehan’s absence, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher and Tom Stewart will compete to take on the role.
Sheehan, a standout player during Ireland’s Grand Slam win earlier this year, was replaced by Herring in the triumphant 29-10 match against England at the Aviva Stadium. His injury, reported by the Irish Independent as potentially sidelining the 24-year-old for the entire pool stage in France, raises concerns. Moreover, Kelleher from Leinster, who suffered a hamstring issue, has not participated at the Test level since the Six Nations.
Samoa game key for replacement hookers to make their mark
With the inclusion of uncapped Munster hooker Diarmuid Barron, along with Ulster pair Herring and Stewart, and given Coach Andy Farrell’s assurance of Kelleher’s fitness for the World Cup, Catt considers the Samoa game as an opportunity for other players to showcase their skills.
Catt emphasised that the game against Samoa offers these players the chance to make their mark. He noted that the eventual diagnosis would determine their strategy moving forward. Sheehan’s absence is keenly felt due to his pivotal role in the team’s playing style.
Coach Farrell is set to unveil the 33-man World Cup squad soon, and Catt indicated that spirited debates among the coaching staff have ensued over selection choices. While making these decisions is a challenging aspect, Catt highlighted that it’s an integral part of the game. He also noted that players not chosen initially remain a vital part of the squad, especially with the dynamic nature of the game’s rules and regulations.
Ireland currently World Number 1 – but they must be more clinical
Ireland, presently the world’s top-ranked team, secured victories against Italy and England. However, Catt stressed the need for greater clinical efficiency in their forthcoming match against Samoa in Bayonne. He emphasised playing in their own style, acknowledging the physicality of Samoa, and underlining the team’s training tempo over the past months.
Catt conveyed that the game serves as the players’ final opportunity to make an impression for selection. With the World Cup on the horizon, a strong performance against Samoa is pivotal to heading into the tournament on a high note. Catt acknowledged previous performances against Italy and England as suboptimal and saw this as an opportunity to rectify any shortcomings.
Ireland have enjoyed a fantastic couple of years leading up to this tournament. However, punters looking to wager on their matches at the World Cup, or their chances of winning the trophy, must monitor this situation and work out whether Sheenan’s absence will greatly reduce Farrell’s side’s chances.