Sexton sits out training again
Rugby:Jonathan Sexton sat out training again this morning as he continues to nurse a groin strain but the Irish management fully expect the outhalf to be back on the paddock come Thursday and available for selection against Argentina this weekend. Sexton pulled up prior to Ireland’s match with Fiji last Saturday but a subsequent scan revealed the injury wasn’t serious.
Nevertheless, he won’t be pressed into action before Thursday – tomorrow is a rest day for the squad – and assuming he comes through that training session without any problems the Leinster man will be named in Declan Kidney’s starting XV later that afternoon.
There was more reassuring news for Kidney today as assistant coach Anthony Foley confirmed the rest of the squad trained as normal. Scrumhalf Eoin Reddan, who injured his ankle against the Springboks 10 days ago, took a full part in the session, while secondrow Donnacha Ryan, who missed the match against Fiji due to illness, was also put through his paces at Carton House.
Argentina, who are also due to name their side on Thursday, have still to reveal whether Juan Martin Hernandez is available for selection. The outhalf missed last Saturday’s defeat to France in Lille with a thigh strain. He trained separately from the rest of the Pumas squad today, but management have yet to make a call on his participation one way or another.
Saturday’s match will determine Ireland’s ranking for the next World Cup, with only a win against the Pumas good enough if Ireland are to be certain of retaining a place in the top eight and receiving a kinder draw when the names come out of the hat on December 3rd. It is a fact not lost on the players, not least outside centre Keith Earls.
"It is another international for us, that is the way we are thinking about it. We hadn’t really spoken about points, apart from a bit, but we spoke about that it is our cup final,” Earls told RTÉ radio this afternoon. "If we win it, we’re doing well and hopefully finish in the top eight in the rankings. It is all about performance. We feel we haven’t performed for the full 80 minutes in the last couple of games so that is something we are looking for, to perform for the 80-plus minutes.
"We are treating this as a cup final and a lot of Irish teams have played in cup finals in the recent years. We’re used to this but as I said it is all about performances for us. Against Argentina, they class themselves with their defence and they are a real dogged team to break down. We are not going to get too many chances and when we do get them we have to take them and keep them on the backfoot."