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Ireland defend plan to play suspended Sexton in unofficial match

(Photo by Donall Farmer/PA Images via Getty Images)

Ireland back-rower Jack Conan remains an injury concern ahead of the Rugby World Cup after missing his country’s week-long training camp in Portugal. Andy Farrell’s squad flew to the Algarve on Monday but Conan remained in Dublin to rehabilitate the foot problem he sustained in the first half of Saturday’s 33-17 victory over Italy.


Head coach Farrell talked down the severity of the issue in the immediate aftermath of the match but will not discover the full extent of it until next week. Ireland host England at the Aviva Stadium a week on Saturday, with Farrell scheduled to announce his final 33-man squad for France on Monday, August 28, following a final warm-up fixture against Samoa.

Defence coach Simon Easterby said: “You would have seen after the game that there were a couple of players carrying bumps. The only person that hasn’t travelled with us from the squad is Jack Conan.

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“He has stayed behind just to rehab and we hope to get more information on his injury next week. We are still waiting on assessment and we decided that it would probably be best for him to stay back in Dublin.”

Leinster player Conan was pictured with his right foot in a protective boot after departing the field just before half-time against the Azzurri. The 31-year-old last week spoke of having unfinished business at the World Cup after his trip to Japan in 2019 was ruined by a stress fracture in his foot.


Full-back Jimmy O’Brien and scrum-half Craig Casey also sustained injuries at the weekend but have travelled with the rest of the squad. Ireland are preparing to play an unofficial training match against Portugal on Wednesday, which should be beneficial for suspended captain Johnny Sexton.

The 38-year-old fly-half, who has not played since sustaining a groin injury at the end of the Six Nations, cannot return to competitive action until his country’s World Cup opener against Romania on September 9 due to a three-match ban. Easterby insisted that the session “isn’t a full-blown game”.


“It wouldn’t be the first time it happened,” said Easterby. “Often teams collaborate with other teams and get the opportunity to do some set-piece against each other and to run some backline against backline.

“It certainly isn’t a full-blown game. It’s a condition training session which has been a collaboration between the Portuguese coaches and ourselves around trying to create a training session which is slightly different from the norm.

“When you know each other so well and get the opportunity to train against each other for four or five weeks, you often cancel each other out in terms of what you try and do in attack and defence.

“I guess it’s one of those opportunities we had to connect up with the Portuguese to train against them and to challenge ourselves in a way you wouldn’t normally do in a normal training week.


“He [Sexton] will be playing a part in the training session, for sure – as will every other player that is here.”


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Adam 338 days ago

Ireland gets an undue lenient sentence. Rather than be grateful, they stick two fingers up to the rugby authorities in a show of petulant arrogance.

The same rugby authorities that will be adjudicating on any Irish player in the near future.
The referees will also have taken note.

And the same shameless smirking Irish fans who tried to justify Sexton's non punishment, and who are trying to justify this, will be on this forum and others crying about the injustice of it all.

Another 340 days ago

Doesn’t playing an ‘unofficial’ match just make a mockery of the ruling that Sexton was banned? It’s either a ban for all matches or it is meaningless.

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