Kidney’s double boost as Healy and Sexton on track to face France
Ireland's troubled Six Nations campaign has received a double boost after Cian Healy was freed to play against France in nine days' time, while out-half Jonny Sexton is winning his fitness race ahead of the Lansdowne Road clash.
Sexton will step up his recovery from a Grade 2 hamstring tear when the Irish squad reassemble this morning and he has reportedly suffered no adverse reaction after undertaking some running already this week.
Irish medics still believe that Sexton has only a 60pc chance of recovering in time to face the French and he would have to undergo rigorous kicking drills and contact sessions in order to prove his fitness.
Sexton incurred the hamstring damage during the first half of the defeat to England earlier this month and while Ronan O'Gara failed to shine initially as a replacement, Paddy Jackson started against Scotland last weekend and missed three of four place-kicks, despite performing creditably.
Meanwhile, the IRFU were celebrating after the Six Nations disciplinary chiefs upheld an appeal against the length of Healy's ban for stamping on England's Dan Cole, ensuring that he can play against France.
Healy (pictured) tweeted his delight after the decision: "Appeal successful, 3week suspension will finish on 3rd march, so now available for selection v France. Very happy with this."
Healy was suspended for three weeks, but the ban was spread over four weeks, effectively only beginning on February 17.
Healy contended it should have lasted for three weeks, starting on the date of the incident and Six Nations tournament organisers confirmed the success of his argument. A statement read: "The player had argued, among other things, that by extending the three-week suspension over four weekends (to take account of the first break weekend in the Six Nations) was not permissible under the relevant regulations.
"The independent Six Nations disciplinary appeal committee, chaired by professor Lorne Crerar (Scotland), along with Antony Davies (England) and Rod McKenzie (Scotland), upheld the appeal."