Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
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# ramping up
Sexton reaching for 100% kicking capability as Ireland report full deck to take on Wales
All injury concerns around Carton House are alleviating.

WITH FOUR DAYS remaining before another potential title decider, Joe Schmidt appears to have a full deck to select from for Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Wales.

Sean O’Brien and Jared Payne have passed their return to play protocols after suffering concussion in the win over England.

The centre and the flanker re-joined the squad training yesterday at Carton House and took part in contact training today.

Jonathan Sexton also played his role in sun-kissed Kildare today, and skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy is confident he will return to the peak of his powers in time for Saturday.

“He kicked a couple of balls on Sunday, did a little bit more yesterday and more again today,” Murphy said in Carton House today.

“So he’s in a good place, he trained fully and was running at 100% today. He will be ready for the weekend.

“His kicking drills, he’s probably not hitting them 100% yet, but today’s Tuesday, Saturday is a long way away and he’ll be ready to go.”

With Racing Metro choosing not to test their out-half’s fitness in the Top14 last weekend, the Leinster-bound man has been allowed almost two full weeks to recover for the meeting with Wales

It’s good that they left him here to recover and I suppose they’re looking at their end to the season and if he’s fit and healthy with a point to prove at the end of the season, it’ll be better for them in the long run.

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“I just don’t think he would have been fit to play last week. His game would have been Saturday last week and I don’t think he would have been ready at that stage.”

Despite some suggestions that his Six Nations was over after injuring his back, Jamie Heaslip is also back in the frame after two sessions this week.

“It looks like a full deck to pick from,” enthuses Murphy, “and everyone is very upbeat, everyone enjoyed that session this morning. The intensity was right up there.

“Having everyone fit and healthy is a massive thing for the squad because it puts pressure on everyone. The environment gets a nice little buzz off that.”

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