Jonathan Sexton and Kearney brothers ruled out of South Africa tour

Connacht’s Matt Healy and Tiernan O’Halloran have come in to the squad for tour

 Leinster’s Dave Kearney has been ruled out of the tour of South Africa.

Leinster’s Dave Kearney has been ruled out of the tour of South Africa.

 

Jonathan Sexton has been ruled out of Ireland’s three-match tour to South Africa after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier in the week.

The Leinster outhalf sustained the injury during the Guinness Pro12 final defeat to Connacht last weekend, damaging the joint in the 28th minute of the match when he was tackled by Connacht hooker Tom McCartney and came down on the point of his right shoulder.

Sexton saw a specialist on Monday evening and he advocated that the player should undergo surgery. The player rehabilitation period is roughly three months. Bordeaux Begles bound Ian Madigan has been called into the travelling party.

There were further withdrawals from the original squad with the Kearney brothers, Rob and Dave, also ruled out after picking up injuries. Dave Kearney suffered a grade two, calf injury in the Pro12 final and his place on tour goes to Ulster wing Craig Gilroy (25), who will hope to add to his six Ireland caps.

Rob Kearney suffered a hamstring strain while running in a training session and will be replaced by Connacht fullback Tiernan O’Halloran (25). Schmidt also confirmed that Connacht wing Matt Healy (27) has replaced Luke Fitzgerald, who suffered a medial ligament tear to his knee in the Guinness Pro12 final.

The Ireland touring party to South Africa will now contain four uncapped players, Healy, O’Halloran, Quinn Roux and Sean Reidy.

Schmidt explained: “Those three injuries (Sexton, Fitzgerald, Dave Kearney) came out of the Pro12 final unfortunately. Jonathan saw a specialist on Monday evening at 7.0pm and it was decided that the best course of action was to get surgery. All three of those players will hopefully be ready and fit for the start of the next season.

Second Captains

“Contrary to what was written there wasn’t a lot of contact (in training during the week). Rob Kearney was running in free space when he strained his hamstring. Rob was looking incredibly sharp and it is disappointing for him but it is a fantastic opportunity for some of those young players who come in and get their opportunity to put their best foot forward.”

On Sexton’s injury Schmidt elaborated: “I don’t know too much about the detail other than to say, there as a feeling it could be managed and there was a feeling that it could be managed conservatively, either for him to continue playing or for him to return but after seeing the specialist, it was felt that surgery was the most appropriate action.

“I had a good conversation with Johnny. We have to move on and you start investing in Paddy Jackson, Ian Madigan and Stu Olding.”

The list of injured absentees from the Ireland squad is quite extensive: Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney, Simon Zebo, Tommy Bowe, Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy, Mike McCarthy, Dan Tuohy, Sean O’Brien, Josh van der Flier and Peter O’Mahony illustrates the challenge facing the touring squad.

Schmidt maintained that it wouldn’t alter the primary playing objectives. “It certainly doesn’t change expectations and expectations are never based around results, as much as that’s how we’re judged. We can’t control all the variables around the results.

“My expectation is that the players will work hard, they’ll unite really effectively under Rory’s (Best) leadership and that we will be competitive. Whether that’s enough, we’ll find out on the 11th, 18th and 25th of June.

“Look, I think for us if we can stay competitive we’re always a chance. If we can stay in the game for as long as possible I think that can potentially unsettle them. The pressure does fall on them a little bit; they’re at home, they’ve never lost to Ireland at home.’

“I know that their motivation is going to be very, very high. When a new coach comes in some of the established players are going to want to demonstrate that they should have been there and deserve the right to remain there.

“There’s going to be new players and the selection that Allister Coetzee has made is a real mix with some fantastic experience and, at the same time, some really exciting new players.

“I think whatever we try to do will be in the context of the motivation they have and what they try to put together. Hopefully, if we can stay in contact with them for long enough in a game I think the players we have will potentially find a way.”

The Irish coach is looking forward for a chance to work with Healy and O’Halloran on a daily basis over the three weeks but outlined the challenge they face. “Those players have done really well and are continuing to build. But in the test arena, they are going to have to continue to build further, because it is a whole different level and that is going to be a real challenge for those players. But that is exciting. They will demonstrate that, they will let you know.”

In Rob Kearney’s absence Schmidt pointed out that Robbie Henshaw, Jared Payne and O’Halloran can all cover fullback while Stuart Olding is an obvious option at inside centre and his Ulster teammate Luke Marshall has the aptitude to cover both centre positions.

The Ireland squad flies to South Africa on Sunday.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.