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Ireland's Robbie Henshaw returns from South Africa tour to undergo knee scan

Published 20/06/2016

Robbie Henshaw will have undergo knee scans after flying home on Sunday night
Robbie Henshaw will have undergo knee scans after flying home on Sunday night

Ireland will be without centre Robbie Henshaw for their third and final Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The Connacht star, who moves to Leinster this summer, will have scans on a knee injury in the coming days after flying home on Sunday night.

Joe Schmidt will not call up a replacement for the 23-year-old, who has started both of the games on tour at outside centre, due to the logistics of travel involved, and he has options for the deciding Test at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Jared Payne is an experienced number 13 who could switch to the midfield from full-back, while Luke Marshall started the first Test alongside Henshaw and could be paired with Stuart Olding this weekend.

Ireland have no other injury worries for the final game of their season despite not training on Monday as they recover from the bruising 32-26 defeat in Johannesburg.

"Robbie Henshaw has returned home and will see a consultant about his knee in Dublin, just to assess the severity of his injury," team manager Mick Kearney said.

"Apart from Robbie, all 31 players are expected to train for the rest of the week.

"Rhys Ruddock did get a couple of stitches above his eye but he'll be fine.

"The lads underwent a good recovery session in the Indian Ocean (on Monday morning) and have the rest of the day off apart from a walk-through (on Monday afternoon).

"They will then train as normal (on Tuesday morning), down day Wednesday, train again Thursday and then captain's run at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday."

South Africa did train on Monday but they too have injury concerns ahead of the series decider, with Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley and Trevor Nkayane all struggling.

Vermeulen came off at half-time of Saturday's game with an elbow injury, while Whiteley replaced him but damaged his shoulder. He and prop Nkayane have gone for scans on their problems.

Coach Allister Coetzee was upbeat on their chances of making it back in time as he basked in the glow of his side's comeback from 16 points down at Ellis Park.

"It's been very pleasing to be honest," he said.

"It was actually one of those special moments in a coach's career where you've been looking into the barrel and players can turn it around like that, and just the belief that was still alive in the team, it was special.

"The belief in itself, the belief in the plan and they all came to the party.

"It's quite an extraordinary win against a quality Irish side, a side that has played together for some time and a side that knows how to put the squeeze on, and yet when our ball-carriers started to carry with pace, running at the opposition with nice good body height.

"We sort of got huge momentum. I think they couldn't handle that well and that's when we got confidence and got in behind them. So it was a really pleasing turnaround for us."

And Coetzee believes the momentum is firmly behind is side ahead of Saturday's deciding game.

"I would like to think so," he said.

"It's not just about the momentum of the team but a better belief in the team. There's been massive belief in what we've been doing and what we're trying, and, like I explained to the players, it was never going to be finished by game one.

"It might not be ready by year one, or year two, but we know where we want to be going into the future.

"But you need to win for things to fall in place as well, just to confirm the systems, to confirm the support and the back-up that we have, that we've got the right team and the right calibre players, that the bench are making an impact when they come on in the second half and gelling as a team."

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