Thursday 22 February 2018

Sexton to miss French clash as Kidney waits on Jackson

Jonathan Sexton will miss the France game
Jonathan Sexton will miss the France game
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

JONATHAN SEXTON will not play against France and Declan Kidney declined to name his starting out-half as Paddy Jackson is a slight injury concern.

Kidney did confirm that either Jackson or Leinster's Ian Madigan would wear the number 10 shirt. Ronan O'Gara would be available if either was unavailable.

"I left an opening at 10 and at reserve 10 because just before we came into the training I was told that it was better to give Johnny another week," Kidney said

"We've withdrawn Johnny from consideration and it's between Paddy and Ian now and we'll firm that up later in the week.

"He (Johnny) ran out full this morning, reached top speeds but sometimes there's a balance between what is right for the player and what is right for the team.

"He needs another week of building it up to be right for the following week (against Italy)."

When asked whether in light of Sexton's unavailability it was an error to leave O'Gara out of the training squad, Kidney said: "No, you can't be bringing in 45 or 47 to cover each position.

"It was just Murphy's law what was going to happen at 10.

Every(IRFU contraced) player is available to us and we'll call in players when and where we deem fit, but at the moment we don't have the need to call in anybody."We'll call him in if needs be but there is no need at the moment.

"We have 20 guys on notice and they are all on full alert that they are on-call to come in."

Kidney outlined his reasoning in dropping O'Gara and the Munster out-half's reaction when h broke the news.

"He was really disappointed, you don' give the type of service Ronan has given and not be disappointed," he said.

"The reason for it is when there is a time of change there will always be a lot of inspection of it and why it needs to happen.

"Sometimes that's the role of a coach to make these type of calls and I just felt that Ian had been going well and deserved a chance in the squad.

"Paddy was going well too he just pulled up in training on Monday with tightness and we'll look after that.

"It's just one of those calls you have to make as a coach."

Fergus McFadden comes in on the wing to replace Craig Gilroy who is out with a groin injury but will not be the place-kicker against Philippe Saint-Andre's men.

"Paddy and Ian will be the front-runners for kicking. He'll go to kicking practice tomorrow to provide back-up where possible," he added.

In the two other confirmed changes to the side Mike McCarthy returns from injury to replace Donncha O'Callaghan and Cian Healy returns from suspension to replace Tom Court.

Declan Kidney confirmed that it is highly unlikely that Ronan O'Gara will be called up for the game.

Declan Fitzpatrick is also out of the game and a replacement for his place in the squad will be named later this week and will be chosen between Stephen Archer or Michael Bent.

Ireland XV to face France: Healy, Best, Ross, McCarthy, Ryan, O'Mahoney, O'Brien, Heaslip, Murray, TBC, Earls, Marshall, O'Driscoll, Gilroy, Kearney.

Replacements: Kilcoyne, Reddan, Fitzgerald, O'Callaghan, Cronin, Henderson, TBC, TBC.

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