IRFU performance director David Nucifora insists Johnny Sexton will not be rushed back to action until he is 100% fit.
Sexton returns to the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry this week for an assessment on the hamstring injury that has sidelined him since the defeat to New Zealand in Dublin last month.
Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster said they are hopeful he may feature against Ulster on New Year’s Eve.
However, Nucifora was keen not to put a time-frame on the recovery period.
“It’s like any player who succumbs to injury; we’ll look at the best way of getting that player back on the field and keeping him on the field,” Nucifora told RTÉ Sport.
“We got to the point with Johnny where he was breaking down with a hamstring issue so the medical teams got together and put a plan into place.
“It’s about the player, it’s about making sure we could get him over the issues and if that took a prolonged period of time to get him right, that’s what everyone agreed needed to be done.
“If he comes back fitter and stronger then he’s going to be there and able to play for all the teams he’s contracted to play for, for the rest of the season. It’s about having a plan in place to get him back to 100% fitness. He’s well on the road to that and we’d be confident that that’s going to happen.”
Nucifora also revealed that the IRFU are assisting Connacht in their quest to find a successor to Pat Lam, who leaves the province at the end of the season.
He said: “We have a great working relationship with them. Connacht need to understand what they want in a coach. Between us we’ll work to come up with the right person and build on the work that has been done by Pat and the players.
“We sat down early on and laid out a profile with the CEO Willie Ruane and established the profile of the person that we think we need going forward. The job Connacht have done there is fantastic. Their contribution to Irish rugby during that period has been terrific. They’re producing a large number of Irish players and players are seeing it as a realistic pathway to play for Ireland.
“We’ve got four highly competitive teams where players can go to and feel they’re well coached and have a great opportunity to be the best they can be.”
Meanwhile, Nucifora said the IRFU are in talks with Munster and Western Province in a bid to extend Jaco Taute’s short-term stay. “Bringing foreign players into the provinces, the onus is on us and the province to work together and choose well. In this case, Jaco has been a great addition. He’s here on a loan and Francis (Saili) is due back.” Nucifora told irishrugby.ie.
“We’ll sit down and look at the list of scenarios that exist down in Munster, if there isn’t room for Jaco then unfortunately he’ll have to go back to Western Province. They may call him back too as that was part of the loan agreement so we’re not in full control. We’ll work with Munster, we’ll work with Western Province, We’ll work with Jaco and we’ll see how this pans out.”
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