Thursday 5 December 2019

Joe Schmidt's concerns over Keith Earls concussion but better news for Johnny Sexton

Keith Earls leaves the pitch with an injury during the 16-16 draw with Wales
Jonathan Sexton is just bruised. SPORTSFILE

Tom Rooney

Joe Schmidt has said that Keith Earls is likely to have suffered a concussion in Ireland’s draw over Wales, but Johnny Sexton and Tommy O’Donnell are in relatively good health following their early exits from the game.

In what was a bruising encounter, bodies began to fall as the contest wore on and, as Johnny Sexton held his head just prior to sinking the kick which secured a draw, many feared yet another head injury.

However, talking to RTÉ, Joe Schmidt said the out half is no more than a little tender. Tommy O’Donnell could have returned to action if necessary, but Keith Earls is likely to have sustained a concussion.

“Johnny is fine, just a bit bruised, Keith Earls may have suffered a concussion; we just have to follow that up.

“Tommy O’Donnell had an  injury assessment but passed it without any problems. But, at that stage, Rhys Ruddock had grown into the game and we left it at that. He’s played a bit for us in the past at number seven and did a good job,” he said.

Schmidt admitted to having concerns about the mind set of his players going into today’s Six Nations opener, particularly with so many front liners unavailable. However, he was pleased with how the less experienced players went about their business

Jonathan Sexton is just bruised. SPORTSFILE
Jonathan Sexton is just bruised. SPORTSFILE

“We just exist in a bubble. I got a little bit of an impression of that (negatively around Ireland) in the press conference on Friday. I did sense as well that we were a little vulnerable to be honest today.

“We had Dev (Toner) and Rory (Best) back today, but besides that it was a very new group. When you put those new players in it’s often the new guys to come off the bench, so you’re going a little deeper into your resources.

“While we’re confident in what we’re developing here, it’s a time thing. There’s guys who I thought acquitted themselves really well today.”

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