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Schmidt “Very Confident” Of Sexton Return For England Clash

Ireland head coach, Joe Schmidt is “very confident” that World Player of the Year, Jonathan Sexton, will compete fully in training this week with no issues, ahead of their Six Nations opener with England on February 2. 

Sexton sat out Leinster’s final two Heineken Champions Cup pool games against Toulouse and Wasps with a slight hamstring injury but following his return to the international camp, Schmidt is confident that he will be fully fit for the England clash.

“Johnny trained yesterday, it was pretty quiet to be honest. There was some fairly attritional European games at the weekend. I thought Munster Exeter was one of the more attritional games I’ve seen in recent times and Leinster obviously, so, these last two days have been pretty quiet”, Schmidt commented at the launch of the Six Nations in London today.

Schmidt on Sexton

“He will train fully on Thursday when we try to ramp the injury up a little bit and our expectation is that he will get through that without any problems at all. He’s very confident, the medical staff are very confident and so are we.”

Ireland were hit with some unfortunate injury news in the second row earlier this week, with Tadhg Beirne set to miss the start of the campaign following a knock he picked up in Munster’s narrow win over Exeter. Iain Henderson is also set for a spell on the sidelines but the Ireland head coach cautiously predicted that he may make an appearance towards the end of the Six Nations.

“He could potentially make the last two weekends, maybe the last weekend, that would be quite tight. Tadhg Beirne on the other hand, should possibly make the third weekend, definitely the last two weekends.”

Tadhg Beirne Ireland

“I feel bad for both of them. Iain Henderson, six weeks out, comes back in a man-of-the-match performance, and back out again. Really unlucky injury. Same with Tadhg Beirne. He’s been so robust, so resilient.”

“He’s played a lot of match minutes in the last three years, he was going very well in that game, he got a couple of fantastic turnovers in that Exeter game and then to pick up an injury is really disappointing for him.”

Meanwhile, Schmidt admitted that he was taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to decide when to call upon Dan Leavy following his return from injury.

“Dan could be back, potentially, the second week. He could come back in. He’ll inject a little bit of energy and intensity into that Scotland week, potentially. It depends a little bit about how his week goes this week.”

“If he makes the Scarlets game or he doesn’t make the Scarlets game, that would probably give some sort of bearing on whether he’ll come back in for the Scotland week or whether we’ll leave him to get him in in the Italian week.”

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Author: Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. You can contact her at marisa@punditarena.com or on Twitter