Robbie Henshaw will miss the rest of the NatWest 6 Nations with the shoulder injury he suffered in Ireland’s 56-19 win over Italy on Saturday.
The British and Irish Lions centre’s loss is a significant blow to Ireland, who are bidding for a third title in five years.
The 24-year-old underwent a “procedure” on his right shoulder on Monday, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) confirmed.
Ireland remain hopeful, however, that prop Tadhg Furlong can shake off a hamstring issue and number eight Jack Conan a shoulder complaint in time for the Dublin clash with Wales on February 24.
“Robbie Henshaw, who suffered a shoulder injury, has undergone a procedure this morning on the injured shoulder and has been ruled out of the remainder of the Championship,” read the IRFU statement.
“Tadhg Furlong, underwent a scan that revealed a minor hamstring injury but is expected to be fit for the Wales game.
“Jack Conan took a bang on his shoulder but is expected to be available for selection for Round 3.
“A reduced Ireland squad will assemble for a mini-camp in Athlone on Tuesday as a number of players return to the provinces.
“The 48-hour camp culminates with a sold out open training session at Buccaneers RFC.”
Henshaw suffered his suspected dislocated shoulder in the act of scoring his second try as Ireland overwhelmed Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The midfielder received oxygen on the field and departed with his right arm in a sling.
Now head coach Joe Schmidt will hope that Leinster centre Garry Ringrose will be back from ankle trouble in time to slot into midfield to replace Henshaw for the visit of Warren Gatland’s Wales.
Munster’s Chris Farrell would prove another option to partner Bundee Aki in the centres, with the Connacht battering ram admitting after the Italy clash that being without Henshaw for the rest of the campaign would prove a “big loss”.
Ireland remain on track for a final-weekend title showdown with England at Twickenham on March 17, with both sides having won their opening two fixtures in the 2018 tournament.
England and Ireland have put a little bit of distance between themselves and the rest at the top of the Six Nations table – but what were they key moments from the second round of fixtures in this year’s competition?
Ireland v Italy
There will be some who say the key moment in this one happened when the two side’s jogged out, such was the Irish dominance.
However, we are going to be a little kinder and highlight Conor Murray’s try just inside the quarter hour mark.
It was significant for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Ireland already had a seven-point lead courtesy of Robbie Henshaw’s try and Jonny Sexton’s boot, so this put Joe Schmidt’s men firmly in control early on.
Second, it showed the Irish intent to play with some delightful interchange between Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls to set Murray away for a really nice score.
Apart from a flaky final twenty minutes, Ireland will be happy with the tune-up this game provided for sterner challenges to come.
England v Wales
Take your pick. Farrell’s vision to release May early on, Launchbury’s offload for May’s brace, the Gareth Anscombe try that never was, and a whole host more – while not the sparkling spectacle we would have wanted the game certainly wasn’t without talking points.
As Wales looked for a late foothold in the game however, England found a try-saving hero who has deep Welsh roots.
Sam Underhill had been a star for the Ospreys before his move to Bath, and the 21-year-old produced a breath-taking last ditch tackle to stop Scott Williams scoring in the corner with the game on a knife edge.
The ground Underhill, a second half replacement, made up to bundle the Scarlets man into touch was incredible as Wales had opened England up with an electric break and some neat hands down the left channel.
After George North had drawn Mike Brown and released Williams, a try looked a formality. Williams may have slid for the line a touch soon but the speed and strength shown by Underhill to get across and roll him into touch a match-winner.
Scotland v France
With both sides coming off opening day defeats, it was likely the loser here would end up in a battle for the Wooden Spoon with Italy. France opened well and bossed long periods of the first half and Teddy Thomas’ brace had them in prime position.
Their defensive shape had not been great at times, but they had shown a spirit that could well have seen them home.
Then half time happened. They came out in the second period and appeared to leave their discipline in the dressing room. Scotland did nothing special to warrant the win but a string of penalties allowed Greig
Laidlaw to keep the scoreboard ticking over, and eventually tip in the home side’s favour.
In all, France shipped 18 second-half points through half a dozen very avoidable penalties.
That leaves their campaign in tatters, with immense pressure now on their next game at home to Italy.
Round two in the Six Nations saw Ireland head to the top of the table with a very comfortable win over Italy.
England further enhanced their title-winning credentials with a hard-fought victory over Wales, while Scotland got over their Cardiff humiliation with a win over struggling France.
But who were the standout players of the weekend?
Forget try-gate. Anscombe had a reasonable time at full-back, but when switched to fly-half really shone. Constantly looking to attack the English defensive line, he added an injection of pace that Rhys Patchell had struggled to introduce. Was at the heart of everything good about Wales late on.
Once again the man pulling the strings for England. Great vision to release Jonny May for that all-important first score, while his partnership with George Ford continues to flourish. Was his usual combative self in defence, and other than an early wobble was more consistent than last week with the boot.
Didn’t miss a beat all game. Always a threat out wide when going forward, Earls got himself on the scoresheet in the Dublin rout, but it was in defence that he really stood out. A small man, he punches way above his weight in the tackle, and his last-minute chase-down of Mattia Bellini was nothing short of sensational.
Some will remind you that Warren Gatland left Launchbury out of the Lions squad. Those words generally come on the back of performances like this one. An all-round powerhouse of a game with close to 20 tackles, great carrying ability and an offload for Jonny May’s second try that was simply sumptuous.
A misjudged bounce aside, Laidlaw was exactly what Scotland needed after last week’s defeat against Wales. Calm and consistent, his delivery from scrum-half was always precise, and a metronomic boot that always kept the scoreboard ticking over. Even filled in at 10 late on for a struggling Finn Russell.
Was given the freedom of Murrayfield for his try in the first half, but was still coming off the type of line that encapsulated his day. Strong, powerful running that constantly caused the French problems and took Scotland over the gain line. Can be a real menace with ball in hand and needs better supply.
Followed up a strong opening week with another good performance at Twickenham. Was everywhere in the loose in both defence and attack, and as the game went on slowly wore down England tight-head Dan Cole to get some joy at scrum-time. Evans is growing well on the international scene.
The 21-year-old have taken to international rugby like a duck to water. Six tries in six games has helped him replicate the scoring form he shows for Ulster. Tall and powerful, he was too hot to handle for the Italians on Saturday. Will face tougher tests but continues to impress with his work-rate and finishing.
He was the high point for France against Ireland, and followed up with a brace this weekend. Assisted somewhat by some poor Scottish defence, his first try showcased his physical yet evasive running style. The second had more than a hint of Gallic flair with a deft chip over the top and finish. Les Bleus’ danger man.