Sexton could yet make France game but D'Arcy and McCarthy out of the equation


Hope remains that Jonathan Sexton will recover from a grade two hamstring tear in time to face France at the Aviva Stadium on March 9th.

The same goes for Mike McCarthy (medial knee ligament) and Gordon D’Arcy (foot), while the Ireland management stated last night Donnacha Ryan (shoulder) and Craig Gilroy (groin) are expected to make full recoveries.

D’Arcy and McCarthy, however, remain highly unlikely to face France. Sexton, apparently, has a chance.

Chris Henry underwent surgery on a meniscal tear in his knee last week so the Ulster flanker joins Paul O’Connell, Simon Zebo, Richardt Strauss, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe as frontline players definitely ruled out of the Six Nations championship.

It has also been confirmed Cian Healy’s chances of facing France hinge on legal argument. His appeal over the four-week suspension for stamping on England’s Dan Cole takes place in Glasgow tomorrow.

The Six Nations disciplinary committee will be chaired by Scotland’s Lorne Crerar, with Rob McKenzie (Scotland) and Anthony Davies (England).

“Jonathan Sexton is continuing his rehabilitation on his hamstring injury and has progressed well to the extent he is expected to run this week as part of his recovery programme,” read an Ireland statement.

Striking a bobbling ball during the first half of the English match in Dublin, Sexton tore his right hamstring. The Irish medical team, led by Dr Éanna Falvey, diagnosed a grade two tear, which requires a four- to six-week rehabilitation period.

Five-week window

That gave Sexton a five-week window to recover for France, six weeks to be ready for Italy in Rome. D’Arcy will remain in a medical boot for another nine days, when his foot will be re-scanned, but there is no evidence of a fracture. McCarthy is running in straight lines.

Despite Ireland suffering their second defeat of the championship on Sunday, Rob Kearney doesn’t believe the season should be viewed as a complete disaster. Not yet anyway.

“It’s not in ruins, there are still two games to go,” he said. “This has been a real turning point in the championship for us because we were still well in the hunt. But I think we have to look forward to France. It has to be a huge statement for us as a team. We owe the jersey one, we owe our fans. There is a lot on the line for us. If we lose that we are in a tough, tough place.”

Like Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt, Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea recently signed a contract extension with the English champions until the end of the 2013-’14 season. O’Shea and Schmidt are the leading candidates to become the next Irish head coach should the IRFU not give Kidney a new deal this summer.

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