Thursday 23 November 2017

Schmidt fears for Sexton

Nick Purewal

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has admitted that Jonathan Sexton's hamstring injury will leave him a big doubt for the final autumn international against New Zealand.

Schmidt conceded Ireland made no progress from their Samoa victory in their 32-15, four-try defeat to Australia. The former Leinster head coach was angry with his side for gifting Australia's back three too many counter-attacking opportunities, leading directly to tries for Michael Hooper and Nick Cummins.

Admitting Ireland are still a "work in progress", Schmidt confirmed 28-year-old Sexton must wait for scan results tomorrow to discover the extent of his hamstring problem.

Schmidt explained: "He has a hamstring injury, we're just not sure of the extent of the injury at the moment. To be honest it's too early to tell. He felt it wasn't particularly bad and he pulled up quickly. But it's out of our control, we just have to wait and see what happens and wait for the results of the scans.

"We'd given Johnny a weekend off and a refresher and we thought we'd get two big weeks out of him, so it's really disappointing. Rob Kearney's not too bad after his knock, someone just landed on his rib and he was sore from something he picked up last week. We're pretty hopeful he'll be available for next week."

Schmidt said that Ireland had been guilty of "a fair bit of defensive naivety" but that they had come back into the match well before half-time after conceding early tries.

"It was very hard to get them off the ball, and that made it extremely difficult to get on to the front foot. One of the things that would account for that, Johnny Sexton hadn't trained a lot. Ian Madigan didn't really get much of a look-in and then was expected to run the show for the second half. That was a big ask, particularly when they were getting off the line so quickly.

"Because we were squeezed for space we didn't get to pick our kicking options, and that forced us into problems. In a game seldom does everything go according to plan, and you've got to be adaptable enough to cope.

"I don't think we're any further forward than we were last week after Samoa, and that's a big disappointment, because we want to keep making progress week to week."

Australia remained on the pitch at half-time, running through their team talk and second-half preparations. Australia head coach Ewen McKenzie said that will continue to be the norm for his side.

"We enjoy staying out there, I've said many times that's how the game was designed," he said. "We've stayed out and had oranges for 100 years. We stay in the moment and the ambience out there, and we get through more by staying out."

Sunday Independent

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