Ireland head coach Andy Farrell admitted Cian Healy’s leg injury “doesn’t look too good” following an emphatic 32-17 defeat by the Maori All Blacks.
Veteran prop Healy, who came off the bench after international rookie Jeremy Loughman required a head injury assessment, left the pitch on a medical cart having twisted awkwardly.
If the front-row pair are ruled out of Saturday’s opening Test against New Zealand, Andrew Porter would be Ireland’s only available loosehead.
Farrell, who fielded an experimental starting XV in Hamilton, also lost centre James Hume to injury, while full-back Jimmy O’Brien sustained a knock.
“Cian doesn’t look too good… he was in a bit of pain coming off the field,” said Farrell. “(The injury) has settled down a bit so we will have to see with him.
“Jeremy actually passed his HIA (head injury assessment) by the independent doctor. We brought him off as a precaution, put Cian on and then that happens to Cian, which is not nice really.
“Jimmy came off with a strain. He’s feeling good in the changing rooms.
“James Hume has a bit of a groin injury that needs assessment tomorrow.”
Farrell is set to name his team for the weekend clash with the All Blacks on Thursday.
While Porter has established himself as first-choice in the Irish number one jersey, the potential lack of cover is a concern. Connacht’s Finlay Bealham has featured at loosehead before in international rugby but is a recognised tighthead.
Ireland suffered a punishing start to their tour after an unfamiliar team featuring five uncapped players were dismantled in the opening period.
The dominant Maoris – who began with 10 debutants – ran in four tries to effectively wrap up victory by the break.
Scores from stand-in skipper Bundee Aki and the impressive Gavin Coombes either side of half-time were scant consolation for the Irish, who at least kept out their opponents in the second period.
Farrell will swiftly turn his attention to taking on the All Blacks in Auckland, where he will bring back his senior players and hope for a far greater showing.
“We’re disappointed, the boys are disappointed, obviously,” he said.
“They feel they could have given a better account of themselves, certainly in the first half. The Maori team 100 per cent deservedly won that game.
“But I’m proud of the boys, the way they came back. It could have been a landslide with the way the score was at half-time.
“The way that some of the individuals have learned, stood up, done some unbelievably good stuff and then some really poor stuff on the back of that is brilliant learnings.
“In all, it’s a good day for us in regards to lads learning lessons and knowing that if we fix a few things, especially discipline-wise, we can give a better account of ourselves in the next game.”