Ireland head coach Declan Kidney refused to admit that Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations championship hopes are over despite suffering a number of worrying injuries to some of his key players, following his side’s 12-6 defeat at the hands of England.
Kidney saw winger Simon Zebo limp out of the game early on after he suffered a broken foot, an injury that will keep him out for at least 10 weeks and prematurely end his 6 Nations campaign. More worrying for Ireland was the sight of likely Lions’ fly-half Jonathan Sexton in agony as he lay on the soggy Lansdowne Road pitch.
Sexton suffered a hamstring tear that leaves him as a serious doubt for Ireland’s trip to Murrayfield in a fortnight’s time, and there are further concerns over Brian O’Driscoll, Sean O’Brien, Mike McCarthy and Donnacha Ryan. Kidney will also be concerned over Cian Healy’s actions, with the prop delivering a blatant stamp on his front-row rival Dan Cole’s ankle which sparked a mini-brawl between the two sides, before also appearing to strike a defenceless England player at the bottom of a ruck.
But Kidney remained positive about his side’s chances, and made a point that England are not home and dry just yet. “This gives England a bit of daylight with the other five sides on two points each with three matches to play,” he said. “The Grand Slam is a wonderful thing to win, but first and foremost you play for the championship and we’re still well in for that.
“We’re extremely disappointed because that wasn’t the result we wanted. Let’s see what France come up with at Twickenham. England have to go to Cardiff too. There’s still a hell of a lot to play for. What we have now are three more opportunities to get three wins. Let’s get to eight points and see where we are at the end of it.”
They must now rely on the English to slip up, either at home against the misfiring French or the unpredictable Italians, or when they travel to the Welsh capital to wrap up their championship. Based on their performance yesterday and at HQ against Scotland, it is unlikely to happen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.
Irish captain Jamie Heaslip refused to blame the weather for their loss, and seemed at a loss for words when he tried to explain why there were so many mistakes. “I don’t want to blame the conditions because both teams played in them,” said the Leinster No 8.
“There were a lot of knock-ons and unforced errors. I don’t know what caused all the errors. It was frustrating and we constantly tried to regroup and go again. England played a good pressure game. There were a lot of sore guys in the changing room, particularly because of the hits they took but also because they lost in a green jersey at home.”