Owen Farrell Joe Schmidt’s best-laid plans for Japan could be torn up by injury

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Certitude: the best-laid plans will be ripped asunder as the 2019 World Cup becomes an event based on durability rather than ability.

Who can smile this Monday morning?

Certainly Jack Carty. Yet again, the Connacht outhalf looked a confident and able replacement, but the loss of Joey Carbery’s creative instincts after his kicking masterclass against Italy cast a pall – be it permanent or temporary – over Ireland’s tournament preparations.

Johnny Sexton is fit to play, following a thumb injury, and, while Joe Schmidt is keen to “forge ahead” despite Twickenham’s promise of punishment on Saturday week, the selection map could be altered dramatically by the next medical update.

Deep concerns arise from the sight of Carbery being driven off the field. Still only 23, he looks more comfortable in the international arena than current All Black 10 Richie Mo’unga or Michael Cheika’s renewed Wallaby hope via Ulster, Christian Lealiifano. Fleeting glimpses of Carbery wearing a green jersey since a stunning yet injury-disrupted Fiji performance in November 2017 have him firmly gripping the coattails of rugby’s leading outhalves: Sexton, Beauden Barrett, Owen Farrell and Handré Pollard.

He is so obviously world class.

Until we get more certainty on Carbery’s swollen left ankle, the Irish selection conundrum can focus on Jack McGrath

The injury spectre is by no means Ireland’s unique curse. New Zealand coach Steve Hansen’s initial masterplan was to use Beauden Barrett and the currently crocked Damian McKenzie in a dual play-maker offence. On Saturday the world champions were outmatched by Australia before Scott Barrett’s red card, with the Mo’unga experiment running out of time.

Selection conundrum

Until we get more certainty on Carbery’s swollen left ankle, the Irish selection conundrum can focus on Jack McGrath.

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