Ireland's troubled World Cup campaign was dealt another blow yesterday following the news that Jerry Flannery's tournament is over.
Hooker Flannery had produced a string of impressive performances off the bench having recovered from a long-standing calf injury and had been named among the replacements for Ireland's crucial Pool C showdown with Australia on Saturday.
However, a severe tear to his left calf sustained in yesterday's training session has ended Flannery's tournament with Sean Cronin now on the bench for Saturday, a terrible blow for the 32-year-old, who also missed out on the Lions tour to South Africa two years ago due to injury.
His misfortune means that Ulster’s Rory Best is likely to keep his place in the team for the rest of the tournament.
Flannery will be replaced in the squad by Munster colleague Damien Varley, who is expected to arrive in Auckland on Saturday.
The withdrawal of the 41-times capped veteran is the latest setback to befall Ireland's World Cup adventure after a disastrous warm-up campaign and uncertain opener against the USA last weekend which has led to a barrage of criticism and pessimistic predictions about Ireland's chances.
However, fit-again full-back Rob Kearney yesterday hit out at negative attitudes and called on the country to get behind the team.
“Our performances in August weren't good enough and the World Cup opening match wasn't good enough,” said Kearney.
“But I would be more of the nature of getting behind the team at the start and if we do screw up and have a bad tournament then jump in and give us everything we deserve.
“For now, I would prefer everyone to come together as a nation and get behind each other.”