Ireland's mission impossible to New Zealand just got that little bit more impossible
The already ominous task of trying to beat the All-Blacks for the first time – in their back yard no less – was made even tougher after the withdrawal of Stephen Ferris yesterday.
The superhuman Ulster flanker was ruled out of the summer tour in the Land of the Long White Cloud with a calf tear suffered in the Heineken Cup Final defeat to Leinster last weekend.
The absence of Ferris, who has been outstanding for Ulster and Ireland ever since returning from injury prior to the World Cup last year, is a huge blow to Ireland’s chances of claiming a first ever victory for the All-Blacks next month.
Kevin McLaughlin will take Ferris’ place in the Irish squad making the long trip south for the three-test tour, rich reward for an excellent campaign with Leinster this year.
McLaughlin is one of a number of Leinster players over whom Declan Kidney will be touching wood repeatedly that they come through this afternoon’s Rabo12 final against the Ospreys unscathed, because the Irish coach can ill-afford to be without any more first team regulars, having already been deprived the services of the likes of Ferris and Tommy Bowe.
The make-up of the Irish squad will be finalised following the meeting with the Barbarians in Gloucester on Tuesday evening, with doubts still lingering over Paul O’Connell, Brett Wilkinson, Chris Henry and Isaac Boss, who has been ruled out of the Rabo12 Final today.
Trying to beat New Zealand with a full strength side is a tricky enough task, but Ireland’s army of walking wounded certainly aren’t making Kidney’s job any easier at the moment.