Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
©INPHO/Dan Sheridan If a picture paints a thousand words: Jamie Heaslip and Declan Kidney.
# 6 Nations
Opinion: Injuries and indecision continue to dog Ireland's 6 Nations campaign
Declan Kidney is not helping matters with muddled messages and contradictions.

THE FACT THAT Jonathan Sexton will miss Ireland’s Six Nations clash with France should not have caused the depth charge of confusion it did at this afternoon’s team announcement.

Sexton pulled his hamstring on 10 February against England. He has not kicked a ball in anger since he was helped off the pitch at Lansdowne Road in that 12-6 defeat.

He ran at full pace for the first time just two hours before head coach Declan Kidney had to name his starting XV to face France.

Yet, shockingly, news that Sexton’s comeback would have to be stalled a week left just enough time for the IRFU media team to print out ‘A.N Other’ in the number 10 spot.

The lack of ‘Paddy Jackson’ in that slot is because the Ulster man pulled up in training yesterday and now has a tight hamstring.

With Ronan O’Gara consigned to a rest week with the Munster surplus, Ian Madigan may be pitched into his Six Nations debut this Saturday.

Kidney, though, told that he did not want to tell the media who he had chosen, between Jackson and Madigan, first until he had spoke to the players.

His mind is already made up, he added. So, if his mind made up how tight is Jackson’s hamstring?

The waters were further muddied by Kidney when he declared that he would be delighted to have Ronan O’Gara back if Jackson could not play.

The coach, and Irish management, may be keen to bring about a new dawn but injuries and fence-sitting are not helping.

5th choice kicker and lineout worries

The inclusion of Fergus McFadden in the team is a sensible move but one that has only been facilitated by the failure of Craig Gilroy to shake off a groin injury.

McFadden is a solid place-kicker for Leinster so Kidney was asked if he would be seriously considered for the kicking duties on Saturday.

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The coach dismissed the notion during the broadcast briefing but added afterwards, in an online and radio interview slot, that McFadden’s abilities with the boot was a bonus option.

If the utility back is handed the kicking tee against France it will be as Ireland’s fifth-choice option [after Madigan] of the current campaign. McFadden then revealed that he has not ever kicked at Lansdowne and may have to organise a slot for later in the week.

Donnacha Ryan told last week that his absence from full training sessions had not helped with lineout preparations ahead of the away defeat to Scotland.

Earlier today, the Munster lock trained properly for the first time since the game in Murrayfield. Would his absence from so much training disrupt the team’s lineout this weekend?

According to Kidney, not at all.

At least the lineout is one thing Irish supporters do not have to worry about. Or do we? Come back to us at 7pm on Saturday to find out.

Ireland undecided on Jackson or Madigan as Sexton fails fitness test