Home Sport Filling injured Sheehan’s boots will be a challenge for Ireland

Filling injured Sheehan’s boots will be a challenge for Ireland

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Worryingly for Andy Farrell, there is a host of walking wounded in the Ireland team after the fierce battle in Pretoria.

South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth (left) in action with Ireland’s Dan Sheehan. Picture: REUTERS, Siphiwe Sibeko

THE SERIOUS knee injury sustained by hooker Dan Sheehan is a major blow to Ireland as they try to square the series with the Springboks in the second Test in Durban.

The Irish have also lost scrumhalf Craig Casey to concussion but there is a top-quality replacement in the vastly experienced Conor Murray, who replaced Casey at Loftus Versfeld and scored a gem of a try.

Coach Andy Farrell has called up Connacht hooker Dave Heffernan and Ulster scrumhalf Nathan Doak to the team and the pair have arrived in Durban.

Sheehan suffered the injury when he tackled Bok bruiser Eben Etzebeth and he was replaced by the man at Leinster who backs him up, Ronan Kelleher. The latter is likely to start at Kings Park.

Scrumhalf Casey was taken off the field on a cart suffering from whiplash after a tackle by Bok lock RG Snyman, an action that has left Farrell seething, according to reports from Ireland.

But it is the loss of the highly regarded Sheehan that will hurt Ireland. The 25-year-old is in the form of his life after winning the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award in 2022. This season, he has been nominated for the Ireland Rugby Player of the Year award and Champions Cup Player of the Year award.

Worryingly for Farrell, there is a host of other walking wounded after the fierce battle in Pretoria.

Centre Robbie Henshaw could also be out with concussion and is going through return-to-play protocols, fullback Jamie Osborne is nursing a groin injury, centre Bundee Aki has a bruised shoulder, wing James Lowe has a thigh issue and prop Andrew Porter will undergo a fitness test on a hand injury.

Farrell will name his team on Thursday and it will be a further setback if he loses Porter, who gave Bok tighthead Frans Malherbe a tough time at Loftus.

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