Ireland refuse to risk Sexton against Italy

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 14:19
Large johnny sexton walks off 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Ireland have decided to do without inspirational flyhalf Jonathan Sexton for their key Six Nations international against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Sexton missed Ireland's tournament-opening 22-27 loss away to Scotland last week with calf trouble and coach Joe Schmidt has resisted the temptation to rush him back for a match where defeat would effectively signal the end of his side's title challenge.

Instead, as was the case at Murrayfield, Paddy Jackson will be the starting flyhalf against an Italy team coached by former Ireland fullback Conor O'Shea.

Sexton has not played since Leinster's 24-24 draw at French club Castres in a European Champions Cup tie on January 20.

Ireland, however, hope to have the 31-year-old British and Irish Lions international available by the time they face France in Dublin on February 25.

Meanwhile, No.8 Donnacha Ryan and prop Cian Healy were the only changes to Ireland's starting XV announced by Schmidt on Thursday.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Christiaan Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 John Ryan, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Ian Keatley,  22 Craig Gilroy.

Date: Saturday, February 11
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 15.25 (14.25 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 26 March 2017
Wasps v Worcester Warriors 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Saracens v Bath 15h00 Allianz Park
Mon, 27 March 2017
NWU-Pukke v UP-Tuks 14h45 Potchefstroom
Fort Hare v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Davidson Stadium
Wits v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Johannesburg
NMMU-Madibaz v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Bloemfontein
UWC v WSU 16h30 Cape Town
Maties v UJ 17h00 Stellenbosch
Fri, 31 March 2017
Highlanders v Rebels 06h35 Dunedin
Sat, 01 April 2017
Blues v Force 04h15 Auckland
Chiefs v Bulls 06h35 Hamilton
Reds v Hurricanes 08h45 Suncorp Stadium
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h05 DHL Newlands
Zebre v Connacht 14h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Lions v Sharks 15h05 Ellis Park Stadium
Leinster v Wasps 15h15 Dublin
Munster v Toulouse 17h45 Limerick
Sun, 02 April 2017
Waratahs v Crusaders 06h05 Allianz Park
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 5 4 0 1 19
Ireland 5 3 0 2 14
France 5 3 0 2 14
Scotland 5 3 0 2 14
Wales 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 0