Rugby World Cup: Sexton in doubt but Earls may be ready

Due to the number of walking wounded, normal plans have been shelved this week

As Ireland prepare to take on Argentina without Paul O'Connell, Sean O'Brien and potentially Johnny Sexton, Matt Williams and Simon Hick look at Ireland's chances of victory.

 

With an appeal of Seán O’Brien’s one-week suspension unlikely, the flanker is almost certainly out of Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina while Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls remain doubtful.

Sexton is a greater concern than Earls.

“Johnny did about 3.5 kilometres of running, that’s a positive,” said Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek. “We’re quietly confident, we’ll see how he goes on Friday.”

Sexton has an adductor (groin) strain that forced his replacement, for Ian Madigan, just 25 minutes into last Sunday’s victory over France. He will attempt to train and kick on Friday.

Earls, who took a “battering” in the midfield collisions, described his 45th cap as the most punishing experience of his life.

“The body is good,” said Earls. “Didn’t train today. The coaches are just watching my load, my running metres. I’ve started all the games and did every training session so I sat down and watched, took a break to leave the body to recover after the most physical game I played in my life. It’s important now that I do know my body and the coaches do know my body and I get a bit of a rest there.

‘More to come’

The usual Joe Schmidt edict is a player must train early in the week, in order to immerse themselves in the game plan, if they are to start on the weekend. However, due to the number of walking wounded, normal plans have been shelved this week. Training by Friday seems essential for selection.

“It’s do or die-type stuff so there might be some allowances around a few things, especially with our medical staff and our S&C, they’ve a good feel on things as well,” Feek added.

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