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O'Connell and O'Mahony 'gatecrashing for the weekend' as Ireland keep injured leaders close by

Ireland will be without some key men on the pitch, but they can still influence matters off it.

Sean Farrell reports from Cardiff

DOWN, BUT NOT out.

Peter O'Mahony Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The key leaders Ireland will be missing for tomorrow’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, but they are at least able to have some input into Ireland’s preparations.

Joe Schmidt has lost Jared Payne (foot), Paul O’Connell (hamstring), Peter O’Mahony (knee), Sean O’Brien (banned) and now Jonathan Sexton (groin) from his starting line-up over the past eight days.

However, they have not abandoned the squad in Cardiff, far from it:

“Johnny’s still there, Paul’s still up there… Pete’s actually gatecrashing for the weekend. It’s great to see the guys up there and adding their presence around,” says new captain Jamie Heaslip.

Paul O'Connell and Jonathan Sexton Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Paul’s making his presence known around the place. He literally only disappeared for the day and then he’s straight back into us.

He’s getting around and everybody’s helping him out. He’s almost being carried around like a king with the lads serving him lunch and dinner and lunch and everything.

“You want someone like Paul around and that’s what he’s gonna do.”

Heaslip also notes that Sexton has been helping Ian Madigan to prepare for this game over recent hours since it became clear that the established 10 would have to sit out the knock-out clash.

“I know Johnny’s gutted, but he’s been helping Mads a lot over the last 24 hours,” says Heaslip before outlining the few differences he sees between the two Leinster 10s.

Ian Madigan Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“They’re very similar, yet very different. Johnny will probably kill me, but Ian is probably a bit faster off the mark in terms of acceleration.

“Ian’s got some pretty exceptional feet, both good (are) organisers of the backline and the way the team gets directed around.

“He’s a confident guy, both are and both can be quite demanding on the training park and on the field.”

Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final

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Sean Farrell

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