Thursday 22 March 2018

'If I was him I'd wear a helmet' - Bernard Le Roux stokes up friendly fire for Racing team-mate Johnny Sexton

Flanker warns Racing team-mate to ‘wear a helmet’ as Schmidt insists No 10 is good to go

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

France are coming for Johnny Sexton at the Aviva Stadium with his Racing Metro team-mate Bernard Le Roux warning that he will make a beeline for the Ireland fly-half.

The South African-born flanker said friendships would go out the window come tomorrow evening's kick-off and after his coach Philippe Saint-Andre stated his side's intention to target the 29-year-old after his 12-week lay-off following repeated concussions, Le Roux upped the ante - advising the Ireland fly-half he may need a helmet.

Joe Schmidt yesterday said he had no worries over Sexton's health as he plays for the first time since clashing heads with Rob Kearney in the closing stages of November's win over Australia.

While he only returned to full contact training this week, Sexton has been able to participate in other sessions and has been in the gym. Schmidt, who grew visibly annoyed at questions over his No 10's readiness, says the idea that he was not fit was "a misconception".

But France are set to test that to the maximum in the heat of battle, with their openside suggesting Sexton is in for special attention.

"It is always good to get a knock off your mate. We'll laugh about it after at the club but if I was him I'd wear a helmet," he told 'Le Figaro'.

Schmidt brought Sexton, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip back into his team after the opening-day win over Italy, while Cian Healy returns to the bench. Rory Best has been passed fit to play after showing no concussive symptoms since coming off in Rome.

Between them, the three Test Lions bring 153 caps worth of experience to the party, but their lack of recent game time is a concern for Schmidt.


"It's a long time since Sean has played with us, it is a long time since Johnny played full stop. It's Jamie's first game in the Championship," he conceded.

"It's not perfect and our performance no doubt will reflect that to a degree, but the less that lack of fluency through the week is evident, the less evident that is (on the field), I think hopefully we can get some tempo into the game and be effective."

Meanwhile, reigning player of the year Andrew Trimble's season is over after he suffered a recurrence of the foot injury that has kept him out since October. He is now targeting the World Cup warm-up games in August for a comeback.

Irish Independent

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