Injuries to Earls, Toner and Stander add to Ireland’s ’emotional bruises’

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium

COMPOUNDING THE EMOTIONAL scars from a chastening evening at the Aviva, Ireland will face into round two of the championship with injury concerns over Keith Earls, Devin Toner and CJ Stander.

In addition to the expected bumps and bruises from a brutal battering, Joe Schmidt confirmed that Earls was replaced at half-time with a hip pointer injury, while Stander and Toner were forced off in the second half.

Earls receives treatment. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Stander has gone for a scan for a facial injury while second row Toner — replaced by Connacht’s Quinn Roux in the 57th minute — rolled his ankle, the same problem which kept him out of Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup win over Toulouse last month. 

As for Earls, the Munster winger was on the receiving end of a number of late hits in the first half, notably when he was taken out in the air by Maro Itoje when fielding a high ball. 

After sustaining the knock in that collision, the 31-year-old attempted to run the injury off but didn’t look comfortable and made way for Jordan Larmour at the half-time interval. 

“Keith is pretty sore, he’s got a hip pointer,” Schmidt said after the 32-20 defeat.

“Dev Toner was an ankle [issue], just taking that kick-off. It looks like he’s rolled his ankle. It’s been a bit problematic for him recently.

“There are physical and emotional bruises there for sure.”

Schmidt was asked whether he felt Itoje’s hit on Earls was worthy of a yellow card.

He replied: “Look I’m not going to get into any discussions about that. I’m just going to go through the normal channels and I’m just going to ask for some clarification on some of the incidents that we saw.

“And once we get that we’ll have a better picture, a better indication of what the referees are actually going to deliver in terms of player safety, and then we can springboard forward from that.”

More pressing, however, will be the fitness of Toner, given both Tadhg Beirne [knee] and Iain Henderson [finger] are already sidelined. Roux wasn’t in the original Six Nations squad, while Ultane Dillane is the other lock in the panel. 

Meanwhile, England head coach Eddie Jones said Itoje — who was on crutches at full-time — has suffered ‘some sort of a medial ligament’ damage after he hobbled off during the second half in Dublin. 

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