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Ireland have 'utmost faith' in Carbery and Carty if Sexton sits out Japan game

The 34-year-old out-half sustained what Ireland called a ‘bang to the quad’ against Scotland.

IRELAND SAY THEY have full faith in Joey Carbery and Jack Carty to step up at out-half in the event that Johnny Sexton is not involved against Japan this weekend.

Joe Schmidt’s side face the hosts in Shizuoka on Saturday and the Ireland head coach is considering making changes to his starting XV for their second Pool A clash.

Sexton sustained what Ireland have described as a “knock on the quad” in last weekend’s win over Scotland. The out-half appeared to receive treatment to his groin during the game and handed place-kicking duties to Conor Murray.

jonathan-sexton-down-injured Sexton received treatment on the pitch against Scotland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Sexton didn’t take a full part in Ireland training yesterday, instead doing some “rehab work” with their S&C staff.

While Ireland assistant coach Richie Murphy insisted that it wasn’t unusual for Sexton to sit out some parts of a squad training session two days after a Test match, Schmidt may consider leaving Sexton out this weekend.

The 34-year-old hasn’t played a huge number of minutes in 2019, featuring only 10 times for province and country, but Ireland will try to find the best meeting point between giving him game time and ensuring he is protected from injury.

“It’s a balance,” said Murphy yesterday after Ireland trained at the Yumeria Grounds near their team hotel in the Shizuoka prefecture.

“The one thing is the evidence of what we’ve seen before – that he can come in and play fresh and do a really good job.

“So it’s a case of when he’s right, getting in the game time. If he’s not, then you have to try and put some of the other guys in whom we have great faith in anyway. 

“Jack and Joey have done a good job over the last few weeks and the last couple of years so we’re quite happy with those guys if they have to play.”

Carbery is said to be back in full training with Ireland after overcoming the ankle injury he suffered during their World Cup warm-up schedule, and the 23-year-old took part in the team’s warm-up before the Scotland clash.

The Munster man has been superb under Schmidt in recent seasons, while also looking extremely sharp against Italy last month before picking up his ankle injury.

josh-van-der-flier-and-jack-carty-celebrate-winning Carty [right] impressed off the bench against Scotland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Carty, meanwhile, only made his Ireland debut during this year’s Six Nations but has rapidly settled into life in the set-up. He made another impressive appearance off the bench last weekend against the Scots, delivering an intelligent kick for Chris Farrell to regather, as well as completing seven excellent tackles.

Carty kicked a penalty to notch his first World Cup points and appears to have earned Schmidt’s respect with strong training-ground performances.

If Sexton does sit out the Japan fixture, Ireland feel they will have capable players wearing the number 10 and 22 shirts.

“I said it last week as well,” said Murphy. “We have utmost faith in our other out-halves. Jack came on against Scotland and did really well.

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“Whichever one of them was called on – if Johnny was out – we have no problem. They can come in and run the game plan the way we want them to and be themselves.

“Johnny is a certain type of athlete and a certain type of rugby player that plays the game his way.

“These guys can come into and fit into our group but still be themselves. That’s important, they have to be themselves.”

Murray narrowly missed a tough conversion and a penalty from 40 metres out after taking over the place-kicking from Sexton last weekend, although he slotted an earlier conversion.

Murphy underlined Ireland’s belief in him as a kicker in the event that something similar happens again in this World Cup.

“We’ve every faith in Conor as a goal-kicker. If it was a case that we had to do that, we would do that.

“When you get a bang in the quad as a kicker it can affect your goal-kicking. So if it’s a case that Johhny is affected like he was at the weekend, we’re obviously not going to risk him in that part of the game.

“He was fully fine to do everything else and kicked out of hand with no problem. Kicking off the ground is actually a different muscle group that you’re using.” 

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Murray Kinsella

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