Irish Rugby
Injury worries mount for Kidney
ESPNscrum Staff
October 27, 2010
Ireland's Keith Earls celebrates his second-half try, England v Ireland, Twickenham, London, England, February 27, 2010
Keith Earls is among those sitting out Ireland's training camp this week © Getty Images

Problems are mounting for Ireland coach Declan Kidney prior to next weekend's November international kick-off against South Africa.

Already without Paul O'Connell, Jerry Flannery, Marcus Horan and Tomas O'Leary, Kidney may have to do without Brian O'Driscoll, Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy and Rory Best, who are sitting out this week's training camp in Limerick. Their absence, combined with the return of eight players to their provinces for Magners League action this weekend, means Ireland have had to draft in six Acadamy players to bolster the fit 22 they have to train.

While O'Driscoll has been out since damaging his hamstring against Racing Metro on October 9, Earls has been in action for Munster in their last two Heineken Cup matches but the Irish medical team, in consultation with their Munster counterparts, decided that he should be rested this week.

Three players, John Hayes, Peter Stringer and Johne Murphy, were released to Munster, and three to Connacht - Brett Wilkinson, John Muldoon and Gavin Duffy - with Shane Horgan and Isaac Boss rejoining Leinster.

"It's not a perfect scenario," acknowledged Ireland team manager Paul McNaughton. "That would be working with 30 players for two weeks before the game. It puts pressure on coaches, as every coach wants their 30 best players to run off their moves and defensive lines against their peers, but because of the extra [Magners] fixtures that is no longer possible."

Former All Black Greg Feek has been added to the coaching ticket for the autumn matches to work on the Irish scrum. The 35-year-old New Plymouth man won 10 caps for New Zealand between 1999 and 2001 and has been working in a consultancy capacity with Leinster this season.

"I spoke to Gert [Smal] about him," coach Declan Kidney said. "He liked what he saw so we are giving it a go. I think the scrum side of things is having a greater impact on [provincial] management and the fact we have to build up indigenous props is part of it as well."

Ireland open their series against the Springboks before taking on Samoa, New Zealand and Argentina at the new Aviva Stadium. Having beaten Peter De Villiers' men last season Kidney wants to double up on the 'Boks, but he warned that they may be stronger this time around.

"From reading what's been said and with the Lions trip, there's nothing worse than a wounded Springbok." he said. "We had a good win last year, but it looks like they will have Juan Smith and Bakkies Botha back. We played well, but as for how well South Africa played, we'll let them answer that. You can see their potency from the two games against Australia in the Tri Nations when they made slow starts, but hauled the points back. They played for what, 60 minutes? If they play for 80 minutes they can show what they can do.

"I see the World Cup as the long-term goal and there are a lot of plans in place, but that is 12 months away. Those who know me will know that there are a few things rattling around in my head, so let's see how we go in the first game and take it from there."

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