Ireland wings Mack Hansen and James Lowe on mend ahead of New Zealand showdown

Injured Ireland wings Mack Hansen and James Lowe are “making good strides” ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand, while James Ryan is seeing a specialist on a wrist issue.

As of Monday morning, no member of Andy Farrell’s 33-man squad had been ruled out of the clash with the All Blacks in Paris.

Ryan’s situation is expected to be come clearer in the next 24 hours, with Ireland hopeful the problem is not as bad as first feared.

Ireland are waiting to discover the extent of James Ryan's wrist injury
Ireland are waiting to discover the extent of James Ryan’s wrist injury (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Team manager Mick Kearney said: “James Ryan is seeing a specialist and we’re hoping for better news than originally anticipated.

“Mack Hansen took a bang to his calf but is improving and both him and James Lowe are making good strides.

“Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw are both in contention as they progress during the week and apart from that just some usual bumps and bruises after a physical Test match.”

Ireland secured their last-eight spot in emphatic fashion by topping Pool B thanks to a crushing 36-14 win over the eliminated Scots.

But that victory came at a cost as Hansen was forced off after returning from a head injury assessment before opening try scorer Lowe departed at half-time due to a bang in the eye.

Lock Ryan, who injured his other wrist in the 13-8 success over South Africa on September 23, then added to the list of concerns for head coach Farrell.

“We won’t have a definitive on James (Ryan) until after he sees the specialist but certainly there is more optimism around James than probably what was originally anticipated,” added Kearney.

“At this stage, no one ruled out for the match against New Zealand.”

Farrell has won three of his four matches as Ireland coach against the All Blacks, including masterminding last summer’s landmark 2-1 tour success.

The latest meeting of the nations means another reunion between Ireland and their former head coach Joe Schmidt, who joined the setup of his native New Zealand just before the 2022 series.

Joe Schmidt was Ireland head coach for the 2015 and 2019 World Cups
Joe Schmidt was Ireland head coach for the 2015 and 2019 World Cups (Adam Davy/PA)

“It certainly adds another dimension to it,” said Kearney. “I’ve maintained a close relationship with Joe over the years.

“He was an amazing coach for Ireland for the years that he was involved.

“He brought Ireland to a new level when he jumped over in 2013 and had some magnificent success, including a couple of wins against the All Blacks, in Chicago and Dublin.

“There’s a lot of talk about Joe knowing players inside out but to me all teams know players so well that I don’t necessarily think it’s a great advantage.

“We know New Zealand particularly well having played them three times in the Test series last July, so looking forward to it and looking forward to catching up with Joe.”

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –