Kidney holding Heaslip hope
Ireland coach hoping number eight recovers from injury
By Paul Higham @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 26/01/11 1:21pm
Kidney: Heaslip hope
Ireland coach Declan Kidney still hopes Jamie Heaslip will be fit to play in the team's RBS Six Nations opener against Italy.
The Irish have a worryingly long injury list as they prepare to travel to Rome for their opening Six Nations clash against Italy on Saturday February 5.
Heaslip is struggling with an ankle injury but will have tests and see a specialist on Wednesday to discover if he has any chance of making the trip to Rome.
At the tournament launch on Wednesday, Kidney said that winger Tommy Bowe would also be discovering the condition of his knee injury on Wednesday as he seeks a medical opinion.
Flanker Stephen Ferris is expected to recover from his ankle problem, and although time is against Heaslip, Kidney is keen not to rule out the number eight just yet.
"Jamie and Tommy are seeing a specialist today. We won't know more until tonight or tomorrow morning," said Kidney.
"We just want to see exactly where Jamie is. We wouldn't like to say he's definitely out - not until we get the report from the specialist.
"The money is probably against him but we'll keep our options open until the news is definitely bad. Stephen Ferris looks like he has a good chance of being okay for next week."
Ireland's injury list heading into the Six Nations continues to grow, with the likes of John Hayes, Shane Horgan, Geordan Murphy, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney and Jerry Flannery all absent.
Kidney is keen to look on the bright side though and says the injury worries will help Ireland see where they are in terms of the younger players coming through.
"You never like to see guys injured - we know how much playing for Ireland means to those guys," said Kidney. "They'd be gutted were they to lose out at this stage of the season.
"But we've also tried to build a squad over the last few years and this will be the test of that. I have a huge belief in the way Irish rugby comes from the grass roots up.
"Of course there won't be as much video analysis on the new guys so that will be an advantage."