Joe Schmidt insists Conor Murray will be fit to start the World Cup in spite of suffering a concussion in Ireland’s 21-13 defeat to England on Saturday.
Ireland boss Schmidt defended his decision to gamble on selecting just two recognised scrum-halves in his final World Cup squad, despite the scare over frontline half-back Murray.
Jonny May and Anthony Watson’s first-half tries condemned Ireland to their second-successive defeat, with two weeks to go until their Pool D World Cup opener against Canada in Cardiff.
Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo were at fault for England’s tries, but Schmidt has vowed not to wield the axe, with World Cup action hurtling into view.
“Conor went through all the head injury assessments successfully, but because he was knocked down it was pertinent to leave him off the pitch so he sat it out,” said Schmidt, confirming Murray’s concussion.
“He’ll go through the return to play protocols which should see him fully fit for the start of the World Cup.”
Munster playmaker Murray has now suffered three concussions inside the last year, with head blows against Zebre and in Test action against Australia in November.
Ireland boss Schmidt claimed there are no lingering fears over Murray, insisting his successive concussions do not require the 25-year-old to be stood down.
“I think that it’s been a long time since he had one,” said Schmidt.
“I think the severity of it was that, I don’t know if you saw him coming off the pitch, but he was fine.
“One of the good things in the modern game is he’s removed from the pitch and stays off the pitch.
“Going back 10 or 15 years he probably would have just played on.”
Fly-half Ian Madigan will deputise at scrum-half amid World Cup injuries, with Isaac Boss and Kieran Marmion omitted from Ireland’s final squad of 31.
Schmidt defended that strategy, confident Murray will be ready to face Canada in Cardiff on Saturday, September 19.
“I think if we didn’t gamble there we were gambling somewhere else,” said Schmidt.
“To cover all your options with 31 players, it’s not possible really.
“As soon as you have three hookers, you can only have two of everything else.
“If we picked another nine we probably had to give up either a midfielder or one of our back-three.
“It’s an imperfect selection because it’s an imperfect number, and that’s fair because that’s what everyone’s got.
“If we do get an injury then we have to make a decision, whether to replace a player or risk the specialist recovering.”