Rugby World Cup 2023: Injured Ireland trio in contention to face South Africa

Finlay Bealham was forced off with a head knock during Ireland's convincing win over Tonga on Saturday
Finlay Bealham was forced off with a head knock during Ireland’s convincing win over Tonga on Saturday

Ireland forwards Finlay Bealham, Dan Sheehan and Jack Conan are in the mix to face South Africa in Saturday’s key World Cup Pool B match in Paris.

The injured trio trained with the rest of the Irish squad on Tuesday and scrum coach John Fogarty reported that they were all making positive progress.

The return from injury of Sheehan and Conan “is being managed” and they will be assessed again on Wednesday.

Bealham has been cleared to play by World Rugby and Ireland squad medics.

The Connacht prop sustained a head injury in the 59-16 win over Tonga on Saturday and although he initially failed a head injury assessment (HIA), he subsequently passed all tests and been given the all-clear.

“He’s perfect, he was in a scrum today and he’s good to go,” said Fogarty of Bealham, who was forced to come off 10 minutes after coming on as a second-half replacement against the Tongans.

Leinster number eight Conan has not played since injuring his foot in a warm-up win over Italy on 5 August, while hooker and provincial team-mate Sheehan suffered a foot injury in the victory over England two weeks later.

“Jack is doing bits and pieces today, he didn’t do a full-blooded one but he’s on the field and he’s going to do a little bit more tomorrow and it’s then a decision to see how he is,” explained Fogarty.

“He’ll be managed as a returning player would be but yeah, we’ve a full bill of health.”

Fogarty added that Sheehan had been involved in scrum work on Tuesday.

“I saw him in a scrum today, so I was very excited to see him in scrums.

“We did some timing in our scrums, some drop-ins and Dan took part. It’s great to see him back involved.

“Again, he’s a player that’s returning so we’ll do a bit more tomorrow and see how he is.”

The winners of Saturday’s encounter at Stade de France will be in a strong position to progress to the quarter-finals as winners of Pool B, with New Zealand their most likely opponents in the last eight.

More to follow.

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