Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
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Henderson set to take over from POC as Sexton looks likely to be fit
The Ulsterman is set start in the second row, while there will be two changes to the back row.

Murray Kinsella reports from Cardiff

JOHNNY SEXTON AND Keith Earls look likely to prove their fitness for Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

The Leinster playmaker will train with Ireland tomorrow morning in the Millennium Stadium, having taken only a restricted part in Wednesday’s session after picking up an adductor strain against France last weekend.

Johnny Sexton James Crombie / INPHO Sexton must prove his fitness tomorrow morning. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Should Sexton come through tomorrow morning’s run he will start in the 10 shirt, but Ian Madigan is on standby in the out-half role if Sexton fails to prove his fitness.

Keith Earls sat out Ireland’s session in Cardiff on Wednesday too, meaning he is another who has to prove his fitness tomorrow morning. Luke Fitzgerald is set to step in at 13 if the Munster man proves unfit.

The feeling this evening is that Sexton and Earls will both come through.

The loss of Paul O’Connell is likely to see Iain Henderson start in the second row alongside Devin Toner, while Jordi Murphy may come into the team in place of Peter O’Mahony.

With Sean O’Brien suspended, Ulster’s Chris Henry is set to start at openside flanker, as Jamie Heaslip takes over the captaincy in the number eight position.

Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross are set to start in the front row again, although Schmidt has been tempted by the idea of putting Jack McGrath in from the start.

Conor Murray will continue at scrum-half, while Schmidt is likely to retain faith in wing pair Dave Kearney and Tommy Bowe after both started last weekend’s win over the French.

Rob Kearney will be at fullback again, while Robbie Henshaw will look to continue the superb form he showed against France at inside centre.

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Henderson’s promotion into the starting XV would mean inclusion for Donnacha Ryan on the bench, while Rhys Ruddock is also set to be among the replacements after only arriving at the World Cup this week as a replacement for O’Mahony.

Possible Ireland team:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Tommy Bowe
13. Keith Earls
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Dave Kearney
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best
3. Mike Ross
4. Devin Toner
5. Iain Henderson
6. Jordi Murphy
7. Chris Henry
8. Jamie Heaslip (captain)


16. Richardt Strauss
17. Jack McGrath
18. Nathan White
19. Donnacha Ryan
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Eoin Reddan
22. Ian Madigan
23. Luke Fitzgerald

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