Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup: Fears are growing giant skipper Paul O'Connell is leaving the stage

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Published 12/10/2015

Paul O'Connell is stretchered off
Paul O'Connell is stretchered off

If, before this World Cup began, Joe Schmidt did a little stress testing of his squad working out worst-case scenarios, it is unlikely he even contemplating facing Argentina in a quarter-final without Paul O'Connell, Johnny Sexton, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Jared Payne.

Now that the date has been fixed, that is the potential reality for the Ireland coach who is likely to lose his captain in the next 24 hours after the serious hamstring injury he suffered in the seconds before half-time.

A young Ireland fan watches from the stands during the Rugby World Cup match at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Photo: PA
A young Ireland fan watches from the stands during the Rugby World Cup match at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Photo: PA
Ireland's number 8 Jamie Heaslip celebrates. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER.
Thierry Dusautoir and Dave Kearney after the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Ireland's lock Iain Henderson celebrates with team-mates. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER
Dave Kearney of Ireland is wrapped up during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Ireland's Iain Henderson in action. Photo:David Davies/PA Wire.
France's lock Yoann Maestri reacts after Ireland's scrum half Conor Murray scored their second try during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on October 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE
Ireland's lock and captain Paul O'Connell takes on France's lock Yoann Maestri. Photo: PA
Paul O'Connell is tackled by France's lock Yoann Maestri Photo: Getty
Referee Nigel Owens. Photo: PA
Ireland's Paul O'Connell receives treatment during the Rugby World Cup match.Photo: PA
Ireland's lock and captain Paul O'Connell tackles France's fly half Frederic Michalak. Photo: Getty
Ireland's fly half Jonathan Sexton leaves the field injured. Photo: Getty
Ireland's fly half Jonathan Sexton holds the ball during the Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photo: Getty.
Peter O'Mahony of Ireland is tackled by Louis Picamoles. Photo: Getty
Ireland's scrum half Conor Murray tackles France's full-back Scott Spedding. Photo: Getty
France's scrum half Sebastien Tillous-Borde on the ball. Photo: Getty
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip in action. Photo: Getty
France's centre Wesley Fofana goes for the ball. Photo: Getty
France's Thierry Dusautoir passes the ball. Photo: PA
Ireland's lock Devin Toner catches the ball in a lineout. Photo: Getty
Peter O'Mahony of Ireland has his shirt pulled by Louis Picamoles (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
France's wing Noa Nakaitaci (top) goes over to reach the ball against Dave Kearney. Getty
Ireland's fly half Jonathan Sexton prepares to kick a penalty. Photo: Getty
Peter O'Mahony of Ireland receives medical treatment during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland.(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony is stretchered off. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE.
Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony lays on a stretcher as he leaves the pitch. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS
Rob Kearney of Ireland goes up to take the ball during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Schmidt was downbeat on O'Connell's injury, admitting that he "suspects" it was the last time we'll see the giant lock in green.

He is expected to confirm that the captain will miss the rest of the campaign after he undergoes a scan today and it is feared the injury may be serious enough to threaten the Toulon-bound Munster legend's career.

Schmidt was more confident on Sexton and O'Mahony, while he lost Payne to a foot injury before yesterday's colossal effort. It is understood that the fly-half injured his groin in the moments before the shuddering hit by Louis Picamoles that brought his day to a close and that, despite him vomiting on the pitch, he did not suffer a head injury.

O'Mahony left the dressing-room on crutches and with his knee in a brace.

O'Brien, meanwhile, could be cited today after he appeared to be seen punching Pascal Pape on the television footage.

"The update on the injuries is it doesn't look great on Paul, looks like an upper hamstring but we're probably going to have to wait until tomorrow to get that scanned, just to make sure that the inflammation has decreased a little bit," Schmidt said.

"Johnny, it looked like an adductor to me, but that's not the learned eye of a medic, so they'll probably get Johnny scanned tomorrow and Peter O'Mahony as well.

"Pete didn't seem too bad. We're hopeful with Pete, I think it's a twist of the ankle or knee but he was walking pretty well in the changing room and hopefully he's okay. I'm not sure which one it is, whether it's the ankle or the knee.

"I've spoken briefly to Johnny and he's already talking about next week so I'm not sure if that means he'll be playing or not but he's never short of advice.

"It's probably Paul who worries me the most of those three."

As for O'Brien, who could face a suspension, Schmidt defended his openside who delivered a brilliant performance.

"I truly hope not," he said when asked if he expected to hear more from the disciplinary officials. "He was being held at the time, he swung an arm I don't think he was looking directly at the player, but it's not for me to determine.

"It's not a closed fist, I'd be hopeful, but it's not a decision for me. Hopefully it's not something that impacts on us considering the dressing room at the moment we have we can ill-afford to lose another player, a player of Sean's experience and standing in the group."

Belfast Telegraph

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph