Schmidt gambles on Sexton
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