Sexton and Kearney to get time to prove fitness for date with All Blacks
JONATHAN SEXTON will learn the extent of his hamstring injury today, and Joe Schmidt has given his out-half until Friday to return to training and prove he can face New Zealand on Sunday.
The All Blacks have their own injury woes after their win over England, with out-half Dan Carter and tighthead Tony Woodcock likely to be ruled out of the game.
Ireland's No 10 appears unlikely to recover from the hamstring injury he suffered when he pulled up in the final play of the first half of Saturday's desperately disappointing defeat to Australia.
The Ireland management are more positive in their assessment of Rob Kearney, who suffered a rib injury towards the end of the game.
While Aaron Cruden will slot in for Carter, Schmidt now faces a selection dilemma at out-half if, as expected, Sexton fails to recover in time to face the world champions.
In Sexton's absence, Schmidt started with Paddy Jackson against Samoa, highlighting his superior game-time to Ian Madigan, who looked rusty when he came off the bench in Saturday's 32-15 loss.
"On Monday we will find out the degree of (Sexton's) injury and then that will make a decision easy for us because it either looks good or it doesn't look good," he said.
Meanwhile, Schmidt called on the Irish public to stick with his team, but said there is no "magic fix" to the problems that plagued his side on Saturday.
The former Leinster coach watched his disjointed side underperform in their first big test of his reign and he is fully aware of what is coming down the tracks.
The All Blacks touched down in Dublin last night and are on course for history, having beaten England on Saturday to record their 13th victory of 2013. No team in the professional age has won every Test in a calendar year, and only Ireland stand in their way.
"This All Blacks team put 47 points on the Australian team in Australia, that is going to make it very tough for us," Schmidt admitted.
"At the same time, I would implore the public to hang in there – we will be working as hard as we can. I have got a lot of time for this group of young men who will try to deliver something a bit special next week.
"Again, it will be performance-related. I don't think you can pick results. We just have to get some things right – you guys saw enough wrong there to know we have got enough on our hands, set-piece, our kicking game, our defensive line. There are a lot of things to work on and unfortunately there is no magic fix.
"I would love if there is a panacea to work all ills there... it is going to be gradual but we will certainly be working as hard next week."