Jonathan Sexton left sitting in the rain

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has several decisions to make ahead of the Samoa game including that of the captaincy

Racing Metro 92's decision to leave Johnathan Sexton on the bench for the entire 80 minutes of their French Top 14 9-6 defeat to Biarritz Olympique will have pleased Ireland coach Joe Schmidt but it's not as if the temporary let-up in the hefty workload of his first choice outhalf is his only concern ahead of Saturday's Test against Samoa at the Aviva stadium.

Sexton cut a disconsolate looking and sodden figure on the Racing bench as he watched his team-mates slip to a poor defeat in torrential rain on a waterlogged pitch, possibly thankful that he wasn’t required to tog off and join in his 14th competitive game of the season.

He still had to make the journey to Biarritz though before returning to Carton House last night to catch up with his Ireland team-mates. Ireland train today and tomorrow and there’s little doubt that Sexton will want to play.

Schmidt has other concerns ahead of his first match in charge of Ireland. Paul O'Connell (calf), Sean O'Brien (ankle), Keith Earls (knee) and Cian Healy (knee) didn't train last week.


The New Zealander must also decide on a captain and that’s likely to be linked to the fitness of O’Connell, who is continuing to rehab from a calf strain and may not be risked.

Samoa, who arrived in Dublin yesterday evening, spent three days at a training camp last week in Guildford. Coach Stephen Betham admitted: "Very little of camp time was spent on actual field work. Most of it was dedicated to bonding."

The Samoans, ranked one place above Ireland in the world rankings, also have injury concerns. Begles Bordeaux prop Benjamin Sa has been called in as cover for Census Johnston.

Winger David Lemi was injured after 19 minutes of Bath's 21-6 victory over the Worcester Warriors. They had already lost flanker Maurie Fa'asavalu and he is replaced by Bath's Alafoti Faosiliva.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer