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Ireland continue to manage 'frustrated watcher' Sexton after thumb injury

A number of players, including the out-half, trained away from the main group in Limerick this morning.

JOHNNY SEXTON WAS again unable to partake in Ireland’s main squad session at Munster’s Thomond Park this morning, as the medical staff continue to manage the out-half after a thumb injury.

Sexton, who suffered the injury in training two weeks ago, worked alongside a strength and conditioning coach during Friday’s morning open session, but didn’t take part in any of the team drills. 

Jonathan Sexton Sexton during this morning's open session at Thomond Park. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The 34-year-old was among a number of players, including Josh van der Flier, Tadhg Beirne, Rory Best and Will Addison, who trained separately to the main group as Ireland rounded off their training week in Limerick. 

“Johnny sat out with his thumb and he’s a frustrated watcher, like most of the players are,” forwards coach Simon Easterby said afterwards.

“All pretty good. There are obviously times when players need to be managed a little bit, whether they have niggles or just off the back of last season. But, on the whole, everyone is working really hard and it’s a good group to be around at the moment.”

As was the case in Galway last week, Ireland’s extended World Cup training squad were put through their paces during an intense session, with the group split between pods of fitness work, tackling drills and games of attack versus defence.

Van der Flier and Beirne did light running and stretching under the attention of one of the medical staff and didn’t take part in any of the ball sessions, while Addison — a late addition to the squad last week — got through some of the fitness drills overseen by Jason Cowman and Ciaran Ruddock. 

Best appeared on the pitch well into the session at Thomond Park and did some light movement work in one of the in-goal areas, while Keith Earls didn’t train at all. 

“There’s a heavy workload through the week and sometimes players just need to be managed through a session like that,” Easterby explained.

“If they haven’t done the pitch session, they’ll always do something slightly different but no less easy.”

Keith Earls Keith Earls sat out the session. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

On Earls, he added: “Yeah, again, not many fitter men in the squad but Earlsy would certainly be one of those that might need to be managed at certain times. Again, he’s worked, like all the others have who didn’t work today, incredibly hard in the week and in the last four weeks that we’ve been together. So, there’s no issue.”

After a two-week block in Galway and Limerick, Joe Schmidt’s squad will now have a week off before resuming their preparations for the first World Cup warm-up game against Italy at the newly-opened IRFU facility in Abbotstown. 

Ireland face Conor O’Shea’s Azzurri at the Aviva Stadium on 10 August, before flying to Portugal for a warm-weather training camp ahead of further outings against England and Wales.

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Ryan Bailey

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