There was good news about Sexton's hamstring injury yesterday. James Crombie/INPHO
Clean bill of health

'We're expecting everyone to be fit for the start of the Wales week'

Mike Catt delivered a positive prognosis about Tadhg Furlong and Johnny Sexton ahead of next Sunday’s opening fixture in the Six Nations championship.

MIKE CATT, THE Ireland backs coach, has spoken positively about the possibility of Ireland using Tadhg Furlong in some form against Wales in next Sunday’s Six Nations opener.

Furlong has been out for nearly a year with back and calf injuries – but despite the lengthy absence, he remains a world class operator. Should he emerge from his comeback game for Leinster against Scarlets without any new injury issues tonight then Catt is hoping Furlong will be ‘able to go again’.

Catt said: “We really want to see Tadhg get some quality game-time under his belt given how it’s been a while since he last played.

“Obviously he’s an integral part of Irish rugby and our team. He’s a world-class player, so (we want him to) stay safe, fit and healthy and put in a good shift and hopefully he will feel good on the back of it. We hope he recovers well and is able to go again.

“From a tight-five point of view, there’s no way you can simulate game intensity on a day-to-day basis in your club in terms of getting up off the floor, the physical contact and winning those battles and getting up again and going again and again.

mike-catt Mike Catt during an Ireland training session. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“It does take a while to get used to. Some players react very quickly to it. Some take a little bit longer. In Tadhg’s case it depends how long he plays really.”

If teams were picked solely on reputation, then Furlong would be involved, without question, tomorrow week.

Catt said: “The beauty of our training is the intensity we put in. So, we can pretty much see and get a feel for the player.
“Faz (Andy Farrell) has an open and honest relationship with most of the players here and they’ll be dead honest with him, same with the medics. It’s not just about match fitness; it’s about whether they fit the combinations and everything that goes with it.

“So, everybody needs to be able to put their hand up.”

Catt also confirmed that every player in camp has taken part in training. Johnny Sexton, the captain, has a slight hamstring injury, which he tweaked against Munster last week.

“Everybody is up and going at the moment,” said Catt. “There are a few guys we’ll be taking care of over the next few days but we’re expecting everybody to be fully fit for the start of the Wales week.”

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