Another blow for Ireland as Iain Henderson ruled out of Six Nations games
Ireland will be without Iain Henderson for their remaining Guinness Six Nations matches against Italy and France after the Ulster captain received a three-week ban. The second-row was sent off for a dangerous ruck clear-out in his side's win over Ospreys last Saturday, a decision that was upheld after a PRO14 disciplinary hearing chaired by Italian official Andrea Caraci today. He deemed the offence to be worthy of a six-week suspension, but reduced the length on the basis of Henderson's good behaviour, co-operation throughout the process and remorse. Henderson can appeal the judgement. His absence is the latest blow to Ireland coach Andy Farrell who called Ultan Dillane up to his squad on Thursday after losing fellow lock Ryan Baird to an adductor strain. Ireland take on Italy in Dublin on October 24, before facing France in Paris a week later. Henderson joins Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls, Dave Kilcoyne and Tadhg Furlong as members of the match-day squad that lost to England in Ireland's last match that are ruled out of next week's game. His absence means Dillane will fight it out with Tadhg Beirne and Quinn Roux to partner James Ryan in the second-row against the Italians. Farrell is expected to name his team next Tuesday.
Ultan Dillane has been recalled to the Ireland squad in place of the injured Ryan Baird
Connacht lock Ultan Dillane has been recalled to the Ireland squad in place of the injured Ryan Baird. Baird had been in line to make his international debut in the coming weeks, but an adductor strain picked up whilst playing for Leinster last weekend, has ruled the 21-year old out of Ireland's remaining two Six Nations games. Dillane joined up with the squad today as Andy Farrell's squad met up for the first time ahead of their meeting with Italy on Saturday week. As confirmed earlier this week, Jordan Larmour will not be available for any of the upcoming international window after the Leinster man dislocated his shoulder against Benetton. As things stand, Farrell has opted against calling up a replacement for the stricken Larmour. Peter O’Mahony and Chris Farrell were identified as close contacts in Munster last week, but the pair are said to be Covid-19 clear, and will complete the required period of isolation before joining the Ireland squad on Monday. In other injury news, Johnny Sexton (hamstring), Rónan Kelleher (quad) and Andrew Porter (hamstring) will be monitored this week with a view to training on Monday. Connacht front-row duo Finlay Bealham and Dave Heffernan are following the return to play protocols. All players and management produced negative PCR tests on Monday ahead of entering national camp today.
Italy's Six Nations preparations hit by coronavirus case
ITALY's preparation for next week's rescheduled Six Nations game against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium has been hit by one of their players testing positive for the coronavirus. Gloucester's Stephen Varney is isolating away from his squad mates in Rome as a result of his positive test. According to the Italian federation, the Welsh-born scrum-half tested negative with his club before leaving England for Italy. He is asymptomatic. "FIR has activated all the procedures envisaged and informed the relevant health authorities in full compliance with the regulations in force," a Federation statement said. "The National team continues the meeting in Rome in compliance with the provisions of the health authority." Ireland, meanwhile, are awaiting the results of tests carried out yesterday before they link up at their Kildare base tomorrow ahead of their matches against Italy and France.
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