Ireland’s star centre Robbie Henshaw will miss his country’s second World Cup match against Romania on Sunday because he is still not match fit.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, whose inspirational selection of Henshaw alongside New Zealand-born Jared Payne delivered a second successive Six Nations title this year, said he’s not prepared to risk the 22-year-old’s participation at the tournament by playing him against Romania.
Henshaw missed the opening 50-7 whipping of Canada last Saturday due to what the Irish camp said was a slight hamstring problem.
Schmidt, who has turned Ireland in just two years from a demoralised unit into a team regarded as dark horses for the title, said Henshaw’s injury had perhaps been more serious than at first thought.
Schmidt is mindful too that his team face their potentially two stiffest tasks after Romania against Italy and France.
“It was just that at the start of the week we felt we had to take it a little bit easier than we first thought with Robbie,” said Schmidt, after announcing a side to play Romania which features 12 changes to the starting line-up from the one that routed Canada.
“He is fully running now and we just felt we’d rather not push ahead.
“Soft tissue injuries can be quite complicated.
“If you get a re-injury on the same site then you are in a situation where his World Cup could be in doubt. So we’ve taken no risk.
“There are times to take risks but this is a great opportunity for Darren Cave.”
Cave comes into the starting line-up after Luke Fitzgerald filled the role against Canada.
The Irish will face a Romania side licking its wounds after a 38-11 defeat by France on Wednesday.
IRELAND: Simon Zebo; Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Darren Cave, Keith Earls; Ian Madigan, Eoin Reddan; Jamie Heaslip (capt), Chris Henry, Jordi Murphy; Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan; Nathan White, Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Tadhg Furlong, Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Paddy Jackson, Rob Kearney