Luke Fitzgerald has calmed fears about the fitness of Ireland’s Johnny Sexton, insisting the number 10 is in the best physical shape of his life.
Sexton has been ruled out of Ireland's RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland this Saturday after failing to shake off his calf problem sustained in Leinster’s recent 24-24 European Champions Cup draw at Castres on January 20.
The 31-year-old limped out of the first half of Leinster's draw in France, detecting the calf issue himself with his provincial bosses hoping a quick withdrawal would boost his chances of being fit to start the Six Nations.
Speaking on this week’s episode of The Left Wing, which will be published tomorrow morning on Independent.ie, Fitzgerald revealed that there is no cause for concern around Sexton’s latest injury.
“I am really disappointed for him. I know he put in a huge amount of work behind the scenes. It’s just a bit of bad luck. The timing couldn’t be any worse for him either," said Fitzgerald.
“There was a bit of pressure on him from behind the scenes and publicly as well which I think is wrong. He is a guy who is extremely professional, he has gone to the best guy in the country, a guy I have seen for a similar type injury and he is in the best shape he has ever been. I know from talking to him and talking to guys around the camp, he is in the best (shape) he has ever been physically.
“He has been a bit unlucky. He took a bit of a risk in that Castres game, he went into that with a dead leg and he stepped in a divot in that game and aggravated it.
“He has been really unlucky, I feel for him because people are starting to worry about him and it’s wrong, he is in really good shape.”
Asked whether he felt Sexton would be fit to take his place in the Ireland team for the Italian test a week from Saturday, Fitzgerald added that the Irish management team might see that clash as an opportunity to rest the Leinster man.
“Especially when it is this area, a lower limb thing. You want to be careful and, look, we should be able to beat Italy. We have a chance now to get him really right, not to take any chances and we have got France, Wales and England, probably the three toughest games in the competition and I would be looking to get him ready for that.”
Six Nations coverage on the Left Wing, in association with Aer Lingus, the official airline to the Irish rugby team.
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Watch the The Left Wing on Independent.ie tomorrow as Luke Fitzgerald looks ahead to the 2017 Six Nations.
I once had a GAA coach who tried to teach us how to give an opponent a dead leg. 'You may have to decide that taking a player out is the only way to win,' these were his words. I played a game of indoor soccer against him years later and I'm convinced he tried to break my ankle. I took it as a compliment.
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