Rob Kearney expected to face England in Grand Slam clash

Rob Kearney is expected to be fit for Ireland's NatWest 6 Nations Grand Slam decider with England at Twickenham on Saturday despite nursing an ankle issue.

Leinster star Kearney sat out training today, but assistant coach Richie Murphy insisted the 85-cap full-back was only held back as a precaution.

Skills coach Murphy confirmed Johnny Sexton is now fully over a gluteal muscle injury, that had hampered his goal-kicking in the wins over Wales and Scotland.

Ireland will chase just a third-ever Grand Slam in London this weekend, having sealed a third Six Nations title in five years with Saturday's 28-8 victory over Scotland.

"Rob's fine, it's just a case of managing his load," said Murphy, of 31-year-old Kearney, who was icing his foot at Ireland's Tuesday training session.

"He picked up a couple of bangs in the Scotland victory, so we're just easing him back into the week. He's perfectly fine.

"He just got caught on his ankle, but he's fine.

"Again, the medics have looked at him, they are very happy with where he's at."

Kearney and Rory Best are the only survivors from Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam triumph. Head coach Joe Schmidt will want his in-form full-back available to face an England side unbeaten at Twickenham since Eddie Jones took the helm in December 2015.

Murphy maintained that prop Cian Healy is fit after a neck problem picked up in Saturday's Scotland victory, with Ireland rejecting any notion of the front-rower suffering a head injury.

"He's fully fit, he trained fully," said Murphy, reiterating Ireland's stance that loosehead prop Healy had not suffered a head injury at the weekend.

"He was assessed by our medics on the field on Saturday: he was coherent, and he just had a stinger problem."

British and Irish Lions fly-half Sexton missed 10 points with the boot in Ireland's 37-27 win over Wales in Dublin on February 24, picking up that gluteal issue in the victory over Warren Gatland's men.

Sexton edged back towards top form in Ireland's four-try win over Scotland however, and Murphy hailed the 32-year-old as "incredible" for gritting his teeth through his recent injury.

"Johnny trained fully this morning and he's fine," said Murphy, of Sexton.

"We were managing him a little bit last week but he's come through that process.

"He had a little bit of a glute issue. It was slightly restricted, in the previous week. By Saturday he was pretty okay, in relation to what he was carrying.

"But he's been incredible in camp this time around. He always has been, but he's really driven the lads hard, and worked with a lot of the young players, and taken a leadership role that we always knew he was good at."

On this week's Paper Talk podcast: A step on Limerick's journey, Kerry 'chastened' and Dubs put paid to The Savage Hunger

- PA


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