Ireland have been rocked by a triple blow as Mike McCarthy, Sean O’Brien and Dave Kearney have all been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations.
McCarthy’s season is over after a consultation with a specialist, while O’Brien and Kearney will not feature in Schmidt’s plans for the rest of the tournament.
O’Brien limped out of last week’s bruising defeat to France with a hamstring injury. The Tullow native planted his left leg and then crumpled to the turf as his knee appeared to give way.
“It looks like a hamstring injury,” said Schmidt post-match at Stade de France. “We feared it might be a knee with the way he planted and turned, but it looks like an upper hamstring injury.
The twice-capped Lion missed the draw against Wales with a hamstring problem and lasted only 20 minutes in the Stade de France before tearing the muscle.
McCarthy was stretchered off in a neck brace after a sickening clash of heads with team-mate Jack McGrath.
Dave kearney took some heavy knocks early on in the game, and was taken off after half an hour when he took a nasty hit from France hooker and captain Guilhem Guirado. There were many calls for red cards during the game.
Ireland were reeling after the hits made on Sexton and Kearney by the French but lock Devin Toner says they are not the type of team to retaliate.
“The temptation is always there but we pride ourselves on discipline and that we can rise above it,” he said.
Keith Earls, who was concussed in the opening game against Wales, trained fully with the Irish squad yesterday and today.
Schmidt was saddened by the pile-up of injuries in the wake of the loss at the Stade de France, and the confirmation of the trio’s lengthy absences will be a bitter pill to swallow.
Ireland face England at Twickenham next Saturday with kick off at 4.50pm, before finishing their campaign with home games against Italy and Scotland.