Ireland hope to have six of the best back for France

Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy, Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney all should be fit for Dublin showdown

“Johnny has been training over the last couple of weeks with the rest of the squad. He’s been getting his reps in so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Johnny has been training over the last couple of weeks with the rest of the squad. He’s been getting his reps in so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

 

Irish coach Joe Schmidt is hoping that six returning players as well as Rory Best will be available for selection when he picks his side on Thursday for the second Six Nations match against France this weekend in the Aviva Stadium.

Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy, Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney are expected to be fit to play with hooker Rory Best currently going through concussion protocols after sustaining a head injury against Italy in the opening match.

“Sean O’Brien had an MRI scan last night which confirmed a hamstring strain on the minor end of the scale. He is feeling good and we are hopeful that he will train with the squad tomorrow,” said Irish team manager Mick Kearney.

“Rory Best suffered a concussion. He has been very well since the game and has been completing a gradual return to play protocol. If he completes this process without any symptoms he will be available for selection.

Second Captains

“Cian Healy trained fully last week, including some scrummaging, and he came through very well. He is available for selection. Johnny Sexton has been cleared to train fully and he is available for selection.

“Finally, Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney are fully recovered and will train this week.”

Sexton, who missed the opening game and has not played for three months, trained fully on Monday and is expected to take part in all sessions this week. Prior to this week, however, the Irish outhalf had been doing his regular weight sessions and has been running with scrumhalf Conor Murray, who also spent time on the sideline with a concussion.

“Like I said, Johnny has been training over the last couple of weeks with the rest of the squad. He’s been getting his reps in so that shouldn’t be a problem,” explained Murray.

The Irish scrumhalf added that Ireland must play a better game in all areas this weekend or they will not beat the French, who earned a hard-fought win against Scotland in their opening match. While the Irish players are pleased with the win, there is a recognition that significant improvement is required.

“Huge, massive step up from the weekend,” said Murray. “You know, you saw the standard set between Wales and England. That’s the standard set for the championship.

“The Italy game will not be good enough to beat France this weekend. We’ve got to, like I said, up it in a couple of areas and really take it on this week and train well and put in a bigger performance. While it was good enough to get the win over Italy it won’t be good enough to get the win this weekend.”

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