All good news on Johnny, says Schmidt after training injury
Joe Schmidt has allayed fears about the thumb injury picked up in training by Johnny Sexton and said he expects him to be back in plenty of time for the first of the World Cup warm-up games against Italy on August 10.
Sexton sprained his left thumb when he collided with Dave Kilcoyne's heel in training last month, which has confined the 33-year-old World Player of the Year to running exercises during the squad's week based in Galway.
"We would expect he will be passing the ball around by the end of next week and that he will be fully available well before we play Italy. It's all good news on Johnny," said Schmidt, speaking at an open training session at the Sportsground in Galway yesterday.
The squad will move to Limerick next week, then have a down week before regrouping at the National Sports Complex as the build-up to the World Cup intensifies.
The Irish group has been boosted by the addition of Will Addison, who got through a heavy workload this week as he continues his recovery from injury.
He is expected to be fully back in the next fortnight or so. His inclusion increases the squad to 45 but this is expected to be whittled down prior to the Italy match and again after that first warm-up game.
The 31-man squad which will go to Japan will be named on September 8 but it's expected another four or five players will be kept in training after that date.
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Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray said that they will be going to the World Cup on the back of a lot of success since the disappointment of the 2015 tournament England.
"I think we've grown as a group since the last World Cup. We've had quite a nice bit of success in Six Nations, big games against some higher ranked teams and we've gone on tours that have been successful," he said.
"So, there's been a lot of positives in our game and the Six Nations just gone, that was a learning curve as well.
"So, this is a nice balance, I suppose of experience coming into this one."