Sch­midt gam­bles on Sex­ton

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

DUBLIN: Fly­half Johnny Sex­ton,

was in­cluded in the 40man squad for Ire­land’s open­ing two Six Na­tions games de­spite suf­fer­ing an­other in­jury at the week­end, the Ir­ish Rugby Foot­ball Union said on Mon­day.

Sex­ton, who has only played three times for Le­in­ster since he was in­jured on Ir­ish duty in Novem­ber and failed to com­plete a full game on each oc­ca­sion, lasted 21 min­utes against Cas­tres on Fri­day due to a calf in­jury.

Ul­ster’s Paddy Jack­son is the other fly­half named in the squad for the Fe­bru­ary 4 opener in Scot­land and the trip to Italy a week later.

With cen­tre Jared Payne and hooker Sean Cronin the main ab­sen­tees through in­jury, un­capped Mun­ster broth­ers Niall and Rory Scannell were re­warded for their ex­cel­lent form for the re­ju­ve­nated prov­ince with call-ups to the squad. Mun­ster winger An­drew Con­way is the third un­capped player in­cluded for Ire­land, who, fol­low­ing Novem­ber vic­to­ries over New Zealand and Aus­tralia, are bid­ding to re­gain the Six Na­tions ti­tle they won in 2014 and 2015. “As al­ways there were some dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions but we feel that the group is a good mix with a num­ber of key play­ers hav­ing good ex­pe­ri­ence and a num­ber of newer play­ers hav­ing gained valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence dur­ing the sum­mer tour to South Africa and the re­cent se­ries,” coach Joe Sch­midt said. – Reuters

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