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'It is what it is... it hasn’t really affected us'

By PA
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 05: Jimmy O'Brien of Ireland is tackled by Jessie Kriel of South Africa during the Autumn International match between Ireland and South Africa at Aviva Stadium on November 05, 2022 in Dublin, Dublin. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

Ireland full-back Jimmy O’Brien insists that Johnny Sexton’s three-match ban will not affect the team ahead of their preparations for the World Cup.

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Sexton was handed the suspension for misconduct after becoming involved in what appeared to be a heated exchange with match officials towards the end of Leinster’s Champions Cup final defeat to La Rochelle.

The ban means that the 38-year-old fly-half will miss Ireland’s three warm-up fixtures, but he will be available for their opening World Cup match against Romania in Bordeaux.

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O’Brien told BBC Sport: “It is what it is.

“We’ll just keep going, and other lads will get a chance [to play in the warm-up games]. He’ll be back for the World Cup, and it hasn’t really affected us much.”

Ireland are set to get their World Cup preparations under way with warm-ups against Italy, England and Samoa in August.

The tournament then begins in France in September with Ireland drawn in Pool B alongside Romania, Scotland, Tonga and current holders South Africa.

O’Brien has earned five caps for Ireland and is hoping to make the most of the opportunities provided in August’s warm-up matches.

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“Hopefully I get a chance to play in a few of them,” the Leinster back added.

“There are so many good players I’m sure everyone will be the same and they’ll all get a chance. Whenever I play, hopefully I play well and put my hand up.”

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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