Prop Cian Healy could find himself in disciplinary trouble after Australia coach Michael Cheika questioned his role in scrum-half Will Genia’s departure from Ireland’s 26-21 second Test victory in Melbourne.
The Wallaby number nine’s series is over after he broke his arm in a 25th-minute incident involving the Leinster star, who himself departed a physical contest early with a shoulder injury early in the second-half.
Genia will undergo surgery on the injury on Sunday but should be fit for the Rugby Championship.
Ireland bounced back from their opening defeat to level the series at AAMI Park and travel to Sydney for next Saturday’s decider with momentum behind them.
Coach Joe Schmidt was upbeat about the prospects of Andrew Conway (hip), Dan Leavy (sternum) and Healy’s capacity to recover in time for the final Test.
Although Australia were upset with the circumstances surrounding Genia’s injury, they do not intend to report the incident to the authorities.
However, citing commissioner Mike O’Leary may choose to review Healy’s actions and has 48 hours from full-time to decide on his next step.
“We ran the play down the front and Willy’s the decoy around the back and he got king hit from the side – looked like a shoulder – and when you’re not expecting it that’s what happens,” Cheika said.
“So Hoops (captain Michael Hooper) went down the front, Willy ran around the back – I’m not sure who it was from the other team that came in and hit him – and he jammed his arm and broke it.”
Cheika is also sweating on the fitness of lock Adam Coleman as he looks to turn things around for the Sydney finale.
Ireland’s win was their first over Australia away from home since 1979, but Schmidt will not celebrate until his team finish the job next week.
Joe Schmidt says the two teams are well matched (Paul Harding/PA)
“All we did was balance the series,” he said.
“I think it all depends on what we can deliver next week and I know the Wallabies will be thinking the same thing.
“They’re a really good side and if they do get a bit more access I know as you saw toward the end we were chasing shadows.
“So, nothing feels monumental when it’s one-all. It feels like there’s still a huge amount to play for.
“We’ll glue ourselves back together, get the trip out of the way to Sydney tomorrow and Monday, have a bit of a look back at the game and then get back out on the training pitch in North Sydney Oval and try to work our way through things.
“There’s still a few things that we know we need to do better because we know they’re going to keep getting better.”
Although a series win is the primary goal, the Ireland head coach is intent on continuing his rotation policy with next year’s World Cup in mind after handing a Test debut to Scarlets second-row Tadhg Beirne.
“We definitely want to win the series, but we’ve probably got 10 games now between this tour and when we go into our warm-up to the World Cup,” he said.
“The thing that we want to believe about our squad is that there’s less and less between players, and so selection is a contest every time.”