Friday 30 September 2016

Joe Schmidt: Johnny Sexton is NOT injured and Keith Earls has 'bounced back pretty well'

Barry Lennon

Published 29/08/2015 | 17:22

Rugby Union - Ireland v Wales - Guinness Summer Series - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - 29/8/15
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton in action
Action Images via Reuters / Cathal McNaughton
Livepic
Rugby Union - Ireland v Wales - Guinness Summer Series - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - 29/8/15 Ireland's Jonathan Sexton in action Action Images via Reuters / Cathal McNaughton Livepic
Ireland's Paul O'Connell and head coach Joe Schmidt during the captain's run
Ireland's Jonny Sexton tackled by Wales' Rhys Webb during the World Cup Warm Up Match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 29, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

JOE SCHMIDT has said that both Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls were not injured in Ireland's defeat to Wales ahead of choosing his final 31 for the World Cup.

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"Johnny wasn't injured. His was a tactical substitution. You might not normally do that in a  test match but we've got the bigger picture in mind," Schmidt told Sky Sports.

"Keith Earls to a knock to the head. He's fine he's totally lucid. He's disappointed that he didn't see the end of the game but he's pretty resilient so he's bounced back pretty well.

"I think you've got to be closer to your final 31. You don't have a lot choice. Tomorrow we'll take a look.

"We're going to review what happened out there and review different parts of the game and review what we have to do for the World Cup and get better as a collective and also look at collective efforts and individual performances."

Separately, he told independent.ie he does not believe the injuries suffered by Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald will keep them out of the World Cup.

The backs went off during the second-half of today’s 16-10 defeat to Wales, with Munster’s Earls needing a stretcher and a neck brace that the coach later said was a precautionary measure.

Fitzgerald had cramped up during the second period and was due to come off before Earls’ problem, but had to stay on the field when Felix Jones came into the fray. Minutes later, he had to be replaced by second-row Donnacha Ryan after feeling a tightness in his glute muscle.

There was positive news on Peter O’Mahony and Richardt Strauss who were both forced off in an attritional second-half, with the hooker rolling his ankle and Schmidt shrugging off O’Mahony’s arm problem.

Earls will follow the return to play concussion protocols, but the damage is not thought to be more serious.

Ireland's Keith Earls gives a thumbs up to the crowd as he's taken off injured during the World Cup Warm Up Match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 29, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's Keith Earls gives a thumbs up to the crowd as he's taken off injured during the World Cup Warm Up Match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday August 29, 2015. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's Jonny Sexton during the captains run at The Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 28, 2015. See PA Story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Ireland players (left to right) Jamie Heaslip, Jonny Sexton, Sean O'Brien, and Connor Murray, sit for the team photo during the captains run at The Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 28, 2015. See PA Story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

“Keith just got caught with his head on the wrong side of the tackle, he was totally lucid in the changing room and he remembered his involvement. The neck brace was precautionary,” he said.

“Luke has a glute injury, he’s uncomfortable. So, he may be out two or three days, maybe five or six.”

Asked if either were doubts for the World Cup, Schmidt said: “I don’t think so, it’s early to tell. They’ll be monitored and they’ll be scanned to make sure they’ll be OK.”

The coach was unhappy with his side’s discipline with Leigh Halfpenny’s place-kicking the difference between the sides in the end.

“It was a little bit of déjà vu, we conceded a lot of penalties at the Millennium Stadium. 6-0 down on pens when we went 10-0 down and it’s just allowing a team like Wales that much opportunity,” he said.

“We didn’t cope well enough, you can’t give Leigh Halfpenny opportunities and you can’t give a team as good as Wales that many opportunities."

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