Tommy O’Donnell’s injury won’t have the Irish running scared

Nick Purewal 10/08/2015
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Dream in doubt: Tommy O’Donnell.

Ireland’s stars will not be “spooked” by the hip injury that threatens to end Tommy O’Donnell’s World Cup chances, according to Joe Schmidt.

Munster flanker O’Donnell required oxygen on the Millennium Stadium field after suffering a nasty blow in the closing stages of Ireland’s 35-21 World Cup warm-up win over Wales.

The 28-year-old should learn his fate in the next few days, but his chances of finding fitness in time for the World Cup could be slim.

Head coach Schmidt has not given up hope on O’Donnell, and insisted Ireland’s players will not fear injury across a month of warm-up clashes.

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“I don’t think any player gets distracted or spooked by injuries,” said Schmidt. “They know, they’ve been playing the game long enough.

“I think if you’re spooked or distracted by something, then you’re more at risk, so I think they’ll just forge ahead.”

Schmidt will cut his squad this week as the August 31 deadline to name his final 31 edges ever closer.

Ireland face Scotland in Dublin on Saturday, by which time their training squad could be as many as seven men lighter.  

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Anscombe determined to keep himself firmly in RWC selection

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Looking the part: Gareth Anscombe adapted well on debut.

New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe is determined to keep himself firmly in Wales’ World Cup selection spotlight after making his Test debut at the Millennium Stadium.

Fly-half Anscombe, whose mother is from Cardiff, featured for most of the second period after going on as a substitute in Wales’ 35-21 World Cup warm-up defeat against Ireland.

And he looked more assured in the role than the player he replaced – Gloucester’s 74 times-capped James Hook – ahead of Wales head coach Warren Gatland preparing to make his first training squad personnel cut following a three-day camp in north Wales this week.

“It was a special moment for me and my family, who were in the stadium,” Anscombe said. “It was nice to have them in the crowd.

“When I came here this was a goal of mine and to have it ticked off is a nice accomplishment. It was a proud moment to run out, and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Once you have a taste, you want more, and we all know what the end-goal is. I would love to be a part of it.”

Anscombe’s versatility as a fly-half and full-back could prove to be an important factor in the final World Cup selection reckoning – Gatland will announce his tournament squad on August 31 – and he was among only a small group of players who potentially enhanced their claims during a game that Ireland dominated throughout.

He offered more control and direction than Hook managed and his half-back partnership with Cardiff Blues colleague Lloyd Williams was central to an improved second-half display by Wales.

“You can never be fully confident, and there are a lot of 10s and 15s,” Anscombe added. 

“There are a lot of talented players, and some good backs are going to miss out.

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“You just have to keep training hard and take your opportunities on the field. I’ve got to survive the first cut and north Wales is another chance to showcase your skills.

“I am feeling a lot more comfortable in the squad. The Six Nations was more of a training role for me and getting a taste of things and an understanding of what the coaches want.

“Being a 10, playing in a different playing environment, it took me a bit of time to get used to the way that things are done over here. 

“I feel I am getting a better grasp of that, and hopefully in time I can develop into a leader and take a few opportunities.”

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Jean De Villiers, Marcell Coetzee, Willie Le Roux to miss Pumas rematch

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De Villiers fractured his jaw.

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers, Marcell Coetzee and Willie le Roux will all miss next weekend’s rematch with Argentina in Buenos Aires, the South Africa Rugby Union announced on Sunday.

The trio all suffered injuries in Saturday’s historic 37-25 Rugby Championship defeat to the Pumas in Durban.

De Villiers fractured his jaw which will rule him out for up to six weeks.

Coetzee suffered a medial collateral ligament injury to his left knee which will rule him out for approximately six weeks. The injury is unrelated to the knee injury he suffered a few weeks ago in Brisbane.

Le Roux sprained his ankle early in the match against Argentina and will also not be considered for the trip to Buenos Aires. 

He will undergo scans early in the week to determine the exact nature of the injury.

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Several players on the way back from injury such as Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and JP Pietersen, will be assessed on Monday before a decision on their availability for next weekend will be taken, Springobk team doctor Craig Roberts said.

Although Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Willem Alberts, Warren Whiteley and Jan Serfontein were declared fit to play last week, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer decided to give them an additional week to recover and they will be considered for selection next week.

Apart from De Villiers, Coetzee and Le Roux, other injured players who will not be considered for the trip to Buenos Aires, are Jannie du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen, Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen.

Morne Steyn has been released from the squad for the week to be with his wife, who is due to give birth to their second child on Monday.

Frans Steyn, although still recovering from injury, is on compassionate leave following the passing of his brother and a decision on when he will rejoin the squad to be assessed will be taken at a later stage.

Winger Juan Imhoff scored a hat-trick of tries as Argentina recorded a stunning first win over South Africa in Durban.

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