Joe Schmidt hopes Joey Carbery has avoided serious injury to his left ankle.
The Munster fly-half hobbled off after suffering a sprain in Ireland’s 29-10 World Cup warm-up victory over Italy in Dublin.
Head coach Schmidt has confirmed Carbery has avoided a fracture, and now hopes the 23-year-old can still be fit in time for the World Cup.
Premier playmaker Johnny Sexton has been recovering from a thumb sprain, and Ireland can ill afford to lose either frontline fly-half.
“The good news is there’s no fracture, it’s a bit puffy on the inside of his left ankle,” said Schmidt.
“We’ll give it 24 to 48 hours for the swelling to go down.
“He’s been cleared of a fracture so that’s the good news on Joey.
“We don’t have anyone else who’s a major concern.
“We’re hopefully relatively unscathed but Joey it will take 24 to 48 hours to know for sure.
“I was really happy with Joey’s performance today.
“Defensively he got himself into the right places, and that’s a challenge sometimes.
“I thought he ran the game very well, the variety of his kicking game and running game.
“He is a danger with the ball, and he almost got through the line a couple of times.
“I thought as a package Joey’s game was really tidy.”
Ireland boss Schmidt confirmed Sexton will be available to feature in the next warm-up clash, against England at Twickenham on Saturday, August 24.
“Johnny probably could have played this weekend,” said Schmidt.
“He trained in the week and was going pretty hard I’m told.”
Carbery, Dave Kearney, Andrew Conway, Jordi Murphy and Kieran Marmion all crossed as an experimental Ireland line-up secured a routine Aviva Stadium victory.
Maxime Mbanda and Carlo Canna bagged first-half tries as Italy exploited Ireland’s pre-season ring-rustiness.
Chris Farrell impressed at inside centre, providing stability and power across Ireland’s midfield.
And Schmidt admitted the Munster powerhouse has improved his chances of forcing his way into Ireland’s final World Cup 31.
Asked if Farrell had improved his abilities to feature at either 12 or 13, Schmidt said: “I think he took a step toward it.
“It’s something that we know all three of the other centres can do.
“Garry Ringrose started his first Test as a 12, and coming off the bench before he’s shifted into 12.
“Bundee has played a lot of 12, and Robbie too.
“And at the same time those three players can play 13.
“So we want to make sure that three or four centres, however we carve it up, with Garry able to play on the wing as well. So it’s just keeping our options open a little.”
Italy boss Conor O’Shea insisted he was reasonably satisfied with proceedings, despite the defeat.
“It’s very hard to contextualise when you have your first hit-out,” said O’Shea.
“I thought there were a lot of positives for where we are physically; we were able to more than hold our own.
“It comes to the stage now about what we can control, not what the opposition does to us.
“A few guys really stuck their hands up; we’ll just keep on building.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Australia crushed world champions New Zealand 47-26 in the Rugby Championship in Perth.
The All Blacks had lock Scott Barrett sent off just before half-time for a shoulder charge on Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper.
Nic White, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Marika Koroibete and Kurtley Beale all crossed the line, with fly-half Christian Lealiifano kicking 13 points and Matt Toomua adding two conversions.
Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown and Ngani Laumape claimed New Zealand’s tries, while Richie Mo’unga kicked three conversions.
Here’s our talking points from the match.
ALL BLACKS STRUGGLE
New Zealand produced one of their worst performances in recent years, albeit they played the full second half with 14 men, but the timing won’t help Steve Hansen and his coaching staff either with their World Cup opener against South Africa just six weeks away.
They were unable to hold on to the ball, struggled with ill-discipline and were unable to match a dominant Australia scrum and lineout that purred all evening in Perth.
The All Blacks couldn’t hold on to possession (24 per cent), gave away easy turnovers (12) and missed too many tackles (37), 19 of which came in first half alone.
The missed tackles stat is frightening – at 79 per cent – considering they enjoyed a 93 per cent success rate in their previous two Rugby Championship games against Argentina and South Africa.
Territory, in which they held a meager 13 per cent in the first half, isn’t relevant sometimes in the modern game, but it’s the position that will frustrate Hansen.
Despite the defeat, they scored four tries with little ball in hand, and special mention must go to Ardie Savea, Lienert-Brown and Kieran Read, who against the circumstances, got through a mountain of work.
Overall, New Zealand did improve towards the end of the match, but the world champions need to be more positive with possession and discipline against the same opposition at Eden Park next week.
Wrap it up and stick a green and yellow bow on it because the Wallabies were absolutely superb.
After losing to South Africa and narrowly beating Argentina, much pressure fell on Michael Cheika and his coaching team heading into their first Bledisloe Cup fixture against the All Blacks.
But they were superb, dominating possession, territory and the scoreline, and wounding an All Blacks side that now look low on confidence.
Samu Kerevi trucked his way through the All Blacks backline at every opportunity and was a model of consistency.
On the wing, Hodge was a menace and capped off a fine evening with two tries.
At 15, Beale produced some of that old magic that we are normally used to seeing, bursting through for a late try to put some more gloss on the scoreboard.
The red card to Barrett may have changed the game, but Australia played with a ruthless efficiency, enjoying 87 per cent territory and 81 per cent possession in the first half, and holding firm to secure a remarkable second win in 11 attempts against the All Blacks.
Can Cheika’s warriors back it up next week?
Barrett was the fourth All Black ever to be sent-off in Test rugby after receiving his marching orders for a shoulder tackle on Hooper just before half-time.
It seemed a harsh decision, with referee Jerome Garces known to make conversational calls, but perhaps fair under the new laws and regulations.
It proved costly with the All Blacks going in at the break under pressure – at 16-12 down – and devoid of confidence.
Because of his positive disciplinary record, Barrett may only miss four matches, including the first two games at the Rugby World Cup. But with talisman Brodie Retallick sidelined due to a shoulder injury, it puts Hansen under pressure to find a partner for Sam Whitelock or force rushing the 2014 World Player of the Year back to action.
The sending off ruined the game, but Barrett needs to learn in the future, and try to be more disciplined in those crucial positions. If it happened in a World Cup semi-final, for example, he would destroy the team’s organisation and belief.
Willi Heinz will make his England debut against Wales on Sunday and is immediately installed as vice-captain despite his lack of Test experience.
The New Zealand-born 32-year-old has been given the stage to prove he deserves a place at this autumn’s World Cup after being picked as the starting scrum-half for the warm-up Test at Twickenham.
Ben Youngs, England’s first choice in the position, is included on the bench for a game that takes place 24 hours before Eddie Jones finalises his 31-man squad for Japan 2019.
Also winning his first cap is Ruaridh McConnochie, the Bath wing who followed up a fine spell in sevens with a strong finish to the 2018-19 Gallagher Premiership season.
Lining up the other wing is Test Lion Anthony Watson, who will be making his first appearance for England since damaging his Achilles at the end of the 2018 Six Nations.
Owen Farrell misses out altogether so George Ford starts at fly-half and is also named captain of a side that contains 377 caps.
Piers Francis profits from Ben Te’o’s unexpected absence from the training squad for Wales by winning his fourth cap in a centre partnership alongside Henry Slade.
For the first time, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry start in the same back row despite being specialist opensides with Curry packing down at six.
The first of back-to-back matches against Wales sees prop Dan Cole and locks Joe Launchbury and Charlie Ewels presented with their last chance to secure their World Cup places.
England’s build-up to the World Cup begins in earnest on Sunday and Jones re-iterated his determination to seize New Zealand’s crown as world champions.
Elsewhere, Alun Wyn Jones will become Wales’ most capped player when he leads a powerful team into Sunday’s World Cup warm-up clash against England.
It will be lock Jones’ 135th Test match appearance – 126 for Wales and nine in British and Irish Lions colours – to overtake prop Gethin Jenkins.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named a team that includes 13 starters from the Six Nations title and Grand Slam-clinching victory over Ireland in March.