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Kidney waiting on Heaslip injury

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has not given up hope on Jamie Heaslip playing in the RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy on Saturday week.

Heaslip is due to see a specialist about his ankle injury on Wednesday and while he is unlikely to feature in Rome, Kidney refused to rule him out at the tournament launch. Winger Tommy Bowe will also have a clearer idea of the severity of his knee injury this evening, but flanker Stephen Ferris is expected to recover from his ankle problem.

"Jamie and Tommy are seeing a specialist. We won't know more until tonight (Wednesday) or tomorrow morning," said Kidney. "We just want to see exactly where Jamie is. We wouldn't like to say he's definitely out - not until we get the report from the specialist."

Kidney continued: "The money is probably against him but we'll keep our options open until the news is definitely bad.

"Stephen Ferris looks like he has a good chance of being okay for next week."

Ireland enter the Six Nations with a lengthy injury list that also includes John Hayes, Shane Horgan, Geordan Murphy, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney and Jerry Flannery.

"You never like to see guys injured - we know how much playing for Ireland means to those guys," said Kidney.

"They'd be gutted were they to lose out at this stage of the season. But we've also tried to build a squad over the last few years and this will be the test of that.

"I have a huge belief in the way Irish rugby comes from the grass roots up.

"Of course there won't be as much video analysis on the new guys so that will be an advantage."

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