fashionably late

Heaslip confident Madigan can make Ireland's late 10 switch seamless

Sexton was a late drop-out from Ireland’s team to face Argentina in tomorrow’s quarter-final.

Sean Farrell reports from Cardiff

IRELAND CAPTAIN JAMIE Heaslip admits the late loss of Jonathan Sexton is a ‘massive’ blow for the team, but insists the personnel are there to make the disrupted preparation relatively seamless.

IrelandÕs Ian Madigan Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Sexton was a dramatic late withdrawal from the starting line-up less than 24 hours after he was cleared to play in the World Cup quarter-final.

The groin injury, sustained in the first half of the 24 – 9 win over France last Sunday, was reported as ‘better than expected’ all week by Ireland’s staff. But news of today’s scan result comes after Sexton experienced ‘tightness’ in the area after yesterday’s training session at the Millennium Stadium.

“Massive. Missing Johnny, Pete, Paul, JP,” Heaslip said with a nod for Ireland’s other injury absentees; Peter O’Mahony, Paul O’Connell and Jared Payne.

“They’re all guys you’d like to have in your squad, but you have to play the hand you’re dealt.”

“Ian stepped in (last week) and we all got the same gameplan we were running during the week.”

He added: “It’s not ideal, but it is what it is.

“We never talk about individuals as such, but we talk about the strength individuals can bring to the group. Granted, Johnny is probably one of the best out-halves out there, but playing with Ian for the last couple of years he’s no slouch either.”

Forwards coach Simon Easterby admitted than Sexton was hugely disappointed with the injury, a strain which could well end his World Cup.

Simon Easterby and Jamie Heaslip Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“He was pretty down on himself after last weekend having to come off, and being the guy he is, he was exactly the same when he found out he couldn’t make it this week.

“He did everything he could. He trained yesterday and unfortunately it’s one of those things.

“In his position as well it’s difficult when you’re kicking, at goal and drop-outs and things like that, with a groin issue.

“You all saw what Ian Madigan did last week against France, he showed what he’s capable of, and we know he can do it again.”

Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final

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