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03rd Feb 2019

CJ Stander and Devin Toner emerge as injury worries for Ireland

Patrick McCarry

A tough day at the office for the reigning Six Nations champions

After England’s defeat of Ireland Joe Schmidt admitted his team had been thoroughly “bullied” by their visitors and Rory Best said his team were bettered in every aspect of the game.

No-one in the press briefing room at the Aviva Stadium disagreed with them.

England won 32-20 after bringing a relentless intensity from the first to the 80th minute, in Dublin, and Ireland’s chances of winning back-to-back Grand Slams are dead in the water.

To make matters worse, Ireland are now counting the cost of a rough night at the office. Three key players – CJ Stander, Devin Toner and Keith Earls – are now doubtful ahead of next week’s trip to Edinburgh to face Scotland.

Schmidt said Stander had suffered a facial injury – he took a bad blow to the jaw – and he will head off for a scan on that.

Keith Earls, who came in for rough treatment from Tom Curry and Maro Itoje, did not return for the second half and the Ireland head coach said he suffered a hip-pointer injury that was “quite sore”.

One area in which Ireland cannot afford any more injuries is the second row, so it will be worrying for Schmidt and his staff to learn that Devin Toner rolled his ankle after claiming a restart, late in the second half.

All of sudden, Ireland looked completely human and vulnerable.