Ireland prop Finlay Bealham has been ruled out of the remainder of the Guinness Six Nations with a knee injury sustained in Saturday’s win over Italy.
The 31-year-old Connacht forward was forced off in the first half of his country’s 34-20 success in Rome and replaced by Tom O’Toole.
Bealham has started each of Ireland’s three matches in the tournament so far and his loss is a major blow to Andy Farrell, who has been without first-choice tighthead Tadhg Furlong due to a calf problem.
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Speaking about Bealham immediately after victory over the Azzurri, head coach Farrell said: “He twisted his knee, obviously he went down straight away, which says something doesn’t it?
“He tried his best to fight on. He’s in a brace there in the changing room, he says he’s fine but he always says that.”
Furlong will this week be involved in Ireland’s two-day training camp and is in contention to return in the round-four clash with Scotland on March 12, with O’Toole on standby for only a second Test start.
Farrell offered a positive injury update on a host of absentees following the weekend win at Stadio Olimpico, which kept the Irish on course for the Grand Slam.
Bealham aside, his optimism was echoed by a statement from the Irish Rugby Football Union on Monday afternoon.
In addition to Furlong, captain Johnny Sexton (groin), centres Garry Ringrose (calf) and Robbie Henshaw (wrist) and scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park (hamstring) have been named in this week’s training group with a view to being ready for Murrayfield.
Ringrose was initially selected to face Italy before withdrawing on the eve of the game.