Ireland’s preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan have been disrupted somewhat due to a hand injury picked up by Johnny Sexton.
According to Rúaidhrí O’Connor of the Irish Independent, Sexton is believed to have dislocated his thumb in the initial two-week bloc of Ireland camp which took place between June 16 and June 28.
As a result, he has not been able to take a full part in training and his recovery is expected to be between four and six weeks. This could be enough time to feature in Ireland’s first warm-up game against Italy at the Aviva Stadium on August 10.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt named three other out-halves in his World Cup training squad; Joey Carbery, Jack Carty and Ross Byrne. The trio will no doubt be keen to use this as another opportunity to impress Schmidt and the coaching staff to further bolster their prospects of making the final 31-man squad.
Of course, the number of out-halves Schmidt chooses to take will be of huge importance. In 2015, Schmidt selected Sexton, Ian Madigan and Paddy Jackson. If he opts to choose three again, then it looks like it will be a straight shootout between Carty and Byrne to claim that third spot.
Carty moved ahead of Byrne in the pecking order during the Six Nations this year but Byrne showed some excellent form towards the tail-end of Leinster’s season which included a start against Munster in the PRO14 semi-final at the RDS.
Ireland will likely provide an update on Sexton’s injury on Friday as they hold an open training session at the Sportsground in Galway.