Tuesday 21 November 2017

Warren Gatland: We are not worried by Jonathon Sexton at all

Wales coach Warren Gatland insists he is not overly concerned by the fact that Johnny Sexton has overcome his hamstring strain in time to lead Ireland's backline in their Six Nations clash. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland insists he is not overly concerned by the fact that Johnny Sexton has overcome his hamstring strain in time to lead Ireland's backline in their Six Nations clash. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Warren Gatland rated Johnny Sexton highly enough to start him in three Lions Tests in 2013 but says he is not worried about what the Irish out-half will bring to the table in Saturday's crunch clash between Wales and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium.

The New Zealander yesterday named his team for the pivotal Six Nations meeting of the Celtic rivals, sticking with the starting XV who earned victory over France a fortnight ago, while bringing uncapped prop Rob Evans and experienced second-row Jake Ball on to his bench for the injured Paul James and Bradley Davies.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is likely to make just one change to his unbeaten side with fit-again Jamie Heaslip expected to replace Jordi Murphy.

Sexton trained fully yesterday along with concussion victims Sean O'Brien and Jared Payne and all are set to be available when the team is named tomorrow.

Gatland however, is not overly concerned by the fact that the Ireland out-half has overcome his hamstring strain in time to lead the backline.

"We are not watching him at all: if he is fit, he plays, if he is not, someone else plays," he said. "We are not going to worry about Jonathan Sexton. We know the threats he poses in terms of his kicking game and accuracy. It is about getting our own game right and then start concentrating on Ireland, talking about individuals and the team and what we are expecting."

Paul O'Connell is in line to win his 100th Ireland cap this weekend and Gatland is out to spoil the captain's party.

"It is a fantastic accolade for him: if he had not had so many injuries over the years he would have had a lot more than 100 caps," he said.

"I hope that adds to the occasion and it is a special day for him even though it might be a bit disappointing with the result."

Wales (v Ireland): L Halfpenny; G North, J Davies, J Roberts, L Williams, D Biggar, R Webb; G Jenkins, S Baldwin, S Lee, L Charteris, AW Jones; D Lydiate, S Warburton (capt), T Faletau. Reps: R Hibbard, R Evans, A Jarvis, J Ball, J Tipuric, M Phillips, R Priestland, S Williams.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport