Ireland are facing an injury crisis in the key stand-off position ahead of the fast approaching Six Nations opener against Scotland in Dublin on 1 February after the news that Munster’s Joey Carbery is out “for the immediate future” with a wrist ligament injury which requires surgery.
As the talismanic Johnny Sexton is already a concern with a knee injury it places new Ireland coach Andy Farrell in a potential conundrum ahead of the tournament, which kicks off in two and a half weeks’ time.
Leinster said this week that former world player of the year Sexton was making “good progress” and would “increase his training load”, but the noises coming from across the Irish Sea are that he faces a struggle to make that Scotland opener.
If Carbery is now also in doubt it could be a rookie in the green No 10 jersey at the Aviva Stadium, with Leinster’s Ross Byrne and Ulster’s Billy Burns the next in line.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the international rugby experience spectrum, Italy star Sergio Parisse looks set to end his long Test career in Rome during this season’s Guinness Six Nations Championship.
The 36-year-old has confirmed that he will not play the entire tournament, which begins for the Azzurri against Wales in Cardiff on 1 February.
“I told [new Italy coach] Franco Smith my desire to end my international career in Rome in front of my family, my friends and our fans,” Parisse said.
“He agrees that I deserve another game, that I cannot end with that match cancelled by the typhoon (Italy’s final World Cup pool game against New Zealand in Toyota City, Japan in October).
“I will face Scotland, England or both, but I will certainly not play the entire Six Nations. The national team needs to develop other players with leadership skills.
“If I were permanently in a group, even more if I were a captain, I would occupy certain spaces. Instead, it is time for others to take my place.”
No 8 Parisse, who has won 142 caps, made his Italy debut against the All Blacks in 2002.
Only two players – New Zealand World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw and Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones – have made more international appearances than him.