Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray ruled out of November Tests

Nick Purewal 24/10/2018
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Conor Murray will miss Ireland’s November internationals due to ongoing neck troubles, in a sizeable blow to head coach Joe Schmidt‘s plans.

Ireland must now face Italy in Chicago, then Argentina, New Zealand and the USA in Dublin without stellar British and Irish Lions and Munster scrum-half Murray.

The 29-year-old has not played since Ireland’s summer tour to Australia and, while he has returned to Munster training, he is not yet ready for match action.

Ulster’s John Cooney steps up in Murray’s absence, with Will Addison, Sam Arnold and Ross Byrne the three uncapped players in Ireland’s 42-man squad.

Murray moved to explain his injury situation on Wednesday, with updates on his neck troubles having been previously intermittent.

Asked when he might be back in action, Murray told reporters: “A couple of weeks; obviously the (Ireland) squad is being named today and I haven’t chatted to anyone.

“I’ve been over and back and they know where I am with the injury.

“I’d have been lucky to be named in it because I haven’t played and you need that – especially with the calibre of Argentina and the All Blacks in particular. You’re going to have to be ready.

“So, in and around the end of November hopefully.”

Murray had asked the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Munster not to lay bare his injury profile, evidence that players are starting to protect their personal medical data.

The 29-year-old has now insisted any lack of information was purely because there was no clear timescale on his playing return.

“This thing has snowballed, big time,” said Murray.

“When I was injured at the beginning we didn’t know when I was going to come back so I requested that we just say that I am just managing my injury because we were still trying to figure out how long it would be.”

England Under-20s graduate Addison has earned his first Ireland call-up, qualifying to represent Schmidt’s men with his mother hailing from Fermanagh.

The 26-year-old has starred at full-back since his summer switch to Ulster, but his versatility across the backline will boost boss Schmidt’s resources.

Munster centre Arnold and Leinster fly-half Byrne complete the trio of uncapped faces in Schmidt’s line-up.

Evergreen hooker Rory Best continues as captain, with Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony named as vice captains.

Ireland start their four-match series by facing Italy in Chicago on Saturday, November 3, with the eagerly-anticipated clash with back-to-back world champions New Zealand at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday, November 17.

“As always there have been a number of close calls in selection, meaning that some very good players have missed out in this particular window,” said head coach Schmidt.

“The upcoming series offers an exciting opportunity for the squad but will also be very challenging.”

IRELAND SQUAD FOR THE NOVEMBER TEST SERIES:

FORWARDS: R Best (Ulster, captain), F Bealham (Connacht), T Beirne (Munster), J Conan, S Cronin, T Furlong, C Healy (all Leinster), I Henderson, R Herring (both Ulster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), D Leavy, J McGrath (both Leinster), J Murphy (Ulster), S O’Brien (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), A Porter (Leinster), Q Roux (Connacht), R Ruddock, James Ryan (both Leinster), John Ryan, N Scannell, CJ Stander (all Munster), D Toner, J van der Flier (both Leinster).

BACKS: W Addison (Ulster), B Aki (Connacht), S Arnold (Munster), R Byrne (Leinster), J Carbery, A Conway (both Munster), J Conney (Ulster), K Earls (Munster), R Henshaw, R Kearney, J Larmour (all Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), S McCloskey (Ulster), L McGrath, G Ringrose, J Sexton (all Leinster), J Stockdale (Ulster), D Sweetnam (Munster).

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Edinburgh flanker Magnus Bradbury set to miss Scotland's November Tests

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Magnus Bradbury in action for Edinburgh

Edinburgh forward Magnus Bradbury looks set to miss Scotland’s November Test series after suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder.

The 23-year-old back-row forward went off injured during Edinburgh’s 40-14 Champions Cup win over Toulon on Saturday.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said on his club’s official website: “Magnus will go for a scan at some point. There’s a fear that he’s a had a slight dislocation in that shoulder – yet to be confirmed, but it’s likely to be weeks rather than days.”

“Best case it’s a few weeks, worst case a few months. But until we have sight of the scans and a proper opinion, we won’t know.”

Bradbury is missing from a Scotland training camp in St Andrews, but Edinburgh have plenty of other players there, leaving Cockerill with a selection headache ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 clash against Zebre in Italy.

Cockerill said: “Beating Toulon was a good step forward in our development. We had to get that monkey off our back with regards to playing the big sides, but now we’ve got to set that standard every time we play.

“We’ve got to do it again at Zebre this weekend. It’s obviously difficult doing it with 17 guys away training with Scotland, but we’ve got a good squad and we’ve got to utilise it.

“We’ll get players released by Scotland to play with us. It’s difficult, but we’ve just got to get our head round it and go with a mind set to win – it’s important that we keep that consistency.”

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Zambia to join Algeria and six others in 2019 Rugby Africa Gold Cup despite 31-0 loss

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Zambia joins Algeria and six others in 2019 Gold Cup

Despite Zambia losing 31-0 against Algeria on Saturday, Africa Rugby President Abdelaziz Bougja has revealed that both teams will qualify for next year’s Gold Cup.

Mr Aziz said the decision was taken at the last meeting held in Tunisia to increase the number of teams participating in next year’s tournament from six to eight.

“As you know, Zambia beat Botswana and Madagascar in the Silver Cup South whilst Algeria beat Ivory Coast and Senegal in the Silver Cup North, so in this regard is was not a difficult decision to make”.

Meanwhile, Director of Sport at the Ministry of Youth & Sport Mr Gib Muyaule expressed delight at the news of Zambia’s inclusion to compete against the elite of Africa.

“The news by Africa Rugby comes as an opportunity for Zambia to feature on a much larger platform and we know it will be tough but we hope our technical bench will put measures in place to drill the team to expected standards”.

Speaking at the same function, Mopani Copper Mines Chief Operations Officer Deon van de Mersh said his company shall continue working with the Zambia Rugby Union to ensure progress.

“We are very pleased with the announcement/ revelation that Zambia will participate in the Continent’s show piece and we pledge our company’s commitment to the partnership with the Rugby Union to ensure the team meets all it’s game fixtures”, he said.

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