Ireland number eight Jack Conan is “in a great place” and in contention to return from a two-month injury absence in his country’s pivotal Pool B clash with Scotland.
Andy Farrell’s side resumed training on Thursday following some time off after Saturday’s thrilling 13-8 victory over World Cup holders South Africa.
All 33 squad members were involved in the session at the team’s base in Tours, including back-rower Conan, who sustained a foot injury in the warm-up win over Italy on August 5, and Stuart McCloskey, who briefly returned home for the birth of his second child.
Defence coach Simon Easterby revealed the recovery of British and Irish Lion Conan has not been without setbacks, but says “there’s no reason why he won’t be available” against the Scots on October 7.
“Jack is a really important part of the squad,” said Easterby. “He’s good around the group.
“At certain stages he’s probably felt like it might not come right, but he’s worked really hard with the conditioners, with the physios, with nutritionists, so I think he’s done everything he can to get himself in this position.
“And I guess we’ve been fortunate with injuries in his position as well that we haven’t had to call upon him. A number of things have aligned to allow Jack to get himself right.“When Faz (Farrell) talked about that position and him (Conan) not having had the rugby coming into the World Cup, we all felt it was the right thing to do to have him and give him the opportunity.
“I think we’re starting to see the Jack that we’d liked to have seen a few weeks ago but injury has obviously not allowed him to be in that place.
“Like anything, I guess he’s got a bit of work to get through, but certainly he’s in a great place and we’re 33 at the moment, fit and ready to go.
“There’s no reason why he won’t be available next week.”
Centre McCloskey is one of three Ireland players yet to feature in France, alongside Conan and versatile back Jimmy O’Brien.
Speaking of the Ulster player, Easterby said: “Stuart McCloskey’s become a dad for a second time as well, which is great. He’s a happy man now.”
Ireland put themselves on the cusp of the quarter-finals by defeating the Springboks in Paris.
Yet the Six Nations Grand Slam champions are likely to need to complete the job when they to return to Stade de France a week on Saturday to take on Gregor Townsend’s side.
Easterby insists Ireland will have little issue switching attention to the forthcoming challenge following the euphoria of last weekend.
“It’s not hard to focus on what’s coming up, even though that might not be what people think,” he said.
“Scotland are a brilliant team, they have the ability to play lots of different ways.
“They can mix it up front with their forward pack, strong maul, scrum, as we saw against South Africa (an 18-3 loss on September 10).
“But they can also play an expansive game with some exciting backs that can really hurt you if you’re not on it.
“There’s definitely no lack of focus for us.
“We always planned to have that few days off regardless of what the result was against South Africa and we knew that this final game in the pool would be pivotal.
“We need to make sure that we prepare exactly how we prepared for the first three games against Romania, Tonga and South Africa.”