Sexton ruled out of Scotland trip


Rugby:Jonathan Sexton has been ruled out of Ireland’s Six Nations game with Scotland on Sunday week after it was confirmed he suffered a grade two hamstring tear against England last weekend. The Irish management had said earlier in the week the outhalf had merely strained his hamstring but revised that position at a press conference this afternoon.

There are real concerns that Sexton could miss the remainder of the championship – hamstring tears can require a recovery period of up to six weeks – but at this stage he is only being ruled out of the Scotland game in Murrayfield on February 24th. Ireland welcome France to the Aviva Stadium on March 9th before concluding their campaign in Rome on March 16th.

Mike McCarthy is unlikely to feature again in the tournament after sustaining medial knee ligament last weekend while Simon Zebo is out for roughly 10 weeks after his operation on a broken bone in his foot earlier this week.

“Jonny’s scan revealed a grade two hamstring injury. Progress has been good so far, but it’s too early to say when he will return to play,” team manager Mick Kearney said at today’s briefing. “Mike has hurt the medial ligament of his right knee. It’s quite sore and he will be in a brace for two weeks. A further review will take place in two weeks.”

Centre Brian O’Driscoll, full-back Rob Kearney, flanker Sean O’Brien and lock Donnacha Ryan are at varying degrees of fitness, but all should be available to face Scotland. “Brian had a recurrence of the soft tissue injury in his good ankle. Scans revealed no structural damage and he will do non-contact training today,” Kearney added.

“Donnacha Ryan suffered a lower back muscle strain. Scans have excluded structural damage but he’s quite sore and won’t train this week. He’ll be reassessed at the weekend and at this stage he has a good chance of being available against Scotland.

“Sean O’Brien has recovered well from his stiff neck and tight hamstring and will train today. Rob is fine. He had a slight dead leg but trained fully today.”

Sexton’s absence for the Scotland game will guarantee additional interest in the performances of Ronan O’Gara, Ian Madigan and Paddy Jackson this weekend. Two from that trio will provide the outhalf cover, with O’Gara expected to regain the number 10 jersey. Jackson has recovered from an ankle problem ahead of Ulster’s game against Zebre tomorrow night and will start for the Pro12 pacesetters.

O’Gara will play for Munster in Llanelli, with Madigan at 10 for Leinster at home to Treviso.

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