Concerns as to Jonathan Sexton’s fitness ahead of Ireland’s meeting with South Africa have been eased appreciably, with team manager Mick Kearney stressing that the out-half is "100%" ready for Saturday evening’s encounter.
Sexton suffered what was described as a tight thigh during Racing Metro’s surprise defeat to Oyannax last weekend, with his club coach Laurent Labit confirming the 10 was taken off as a result of the minor injury.
Kearney had a different slant on that.
“I don’t think we were ever really concerned, given that we knew he was going to play only a limited part in the game,” said Kearney. “When he did come off after 40, we wouldn’t have had any great concern about an injury.
“Obviously, if we felt he could do more damage to it, he wouldn’t be played. The medical opinion is that he’s fine to train today (Monday), for instance, and we don’t have any concern about him at this stage.”
The positive prognosis on Sexton was mostly echoed throughout the squad, with slight concerns over Gordon D’Arcy, Rob Kearney, Jack McGrath, Stuart Olding and Tommy Bowe but all given a thumbs up and partaking in training to various degrees.
Worries over the front row remain, however. Rory Best has a tight calf, which will continue to be monitored on a modified training load, while Mike Ross is being reintroduced to training gradually this week.
Kearney did, however, express a “reasonable” confidence that the Leinster tight head, returning from a month out with a groin injury, would feature against the Springboks, whose only worry is scrum-half, Ruan Pienaar.
The Ulster player was due to train in Dublin yesterday, but has been all but ruled out for the Aviva Stadium game as he continues to recover from the medial knee ligament injury suffered with the Boks two months ago.
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