Declan Kidney received the news he was dreading yesterday, when initial reports appeared to confirm that Irish out-half Johnny Sexton looks set to miss the match against Scotland in two weeks time.
Following the loss of Simon Zebo to injury, and confirmation that Cian Healy has been cited for stamping an English opponent, this season’s championship has suddenly become a nightmare for Kidney and his backroom team. Zebo underwent surgery on a broken metatarsal yesterday and will be out for eight to ten weeks. This means that he will miss the rest of the Six Nations and also Munster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final at Harlequins on April 6.
Ireland play Scotland at Murrayfield on February 24, with Zebo, Sexton, Mike McCarthy and Cian Healy all looking doubtful. Sexton’s hamstring problem was confirmed by a scan on Monday, while McCarthy strained the medial ligament in his right knee in the game against England and is scheduled to see a specialist this week “for further review”.
Donnacha Ryan will also need to see a specialist to examine a back problem, while Brian O’Driscoll injured his right ankle, and must also get treatment. However, it is hoped that both these players will recover in time to face the Scots.
Yesterday Cian Healy was cited by the independent citing commissioner, Alberto Recaldini, for stamping on an opponent during Sunday’s match. Healy was shown by television replays to have made contact with the outstretched foot and ankle of England tighthead prop Dan Cole and now faces a hearing in London tomorrow in front of Professor Lorne Crerar, chairman of the Six Nations Disciplinary Panel. If found guilty of the alleged offence, contrary to Law 10.4(b), International Rugby Board sanctions allow for a suspension anywhere between two weeks for a low-end offence, five weeks for mid-range and a top end of nine-plus weeks.
All of a sudden a season that promised so much after the win over Wales is becoming a real uphill battle, and Kidney will face an anxious wait over the next couple of days, as he tries to make plans for the trip to Murrayfield.