Ireland’s two injury concerns, Jared Payne and Rob Kearney, have both been left out of the matchday squad for this weekend’s game against Italy.
Zebo’s joy quickly turned to grief with the death of his grandfather last Sunday – he was allowed to fly back to Ireland for the funeral during the week.
“Jared’s got bruising, with inflammation and discomfort but that’s getting better by the day”.
“He was fit to train fully today and is no problem for next week.
Maybe Italy teams before that would have rolled over after the first half”, said the Ulster star. He can walk and jog freely now.
After his nightmare afternoon in Twickenham in the warm-up defeat to England, a resurgent Tommy Bowe gave a timely reminder last weekend that he remains very much in the picture for selection.
“I’m always learning from him (O’Connell)”, said Henderson. Schmidt is “quietly confident” he’ll be back for the France match.
“We’d expect he’d be able to train with the team on Wednesday”.
Victory over Italy would guarantee Ireland a place in the knock-out stages of the tournament – a week before their game against France.
The winners of that Millennium Stadium battle are most likely to top Pool D and face an anticipated quarter-final with Argentina. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Dave Kearney, 10.
“They made a really good combination during the Six Nations”, added the 49-year-old New Zealander.
The Irish admit Parisse is a man to fear but the 32-year-old Argentina-born back row forward only returned to the squad this week after recovering from the after effects of an operation to drain a haematoma on his calf.
Tommy Bowe keeps his place on the wing after showing signs of a return to form against Romania.
“We just felt that Keith in the pre-season match (in Cardiff) had had done well at centre and it makes for a fairly attack minded group”, said Schmidt.