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Sexton declares himself fit while O'Mahony critiques an Ireland back row minus Doris

(Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has declared himself fit to play in Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Wales. Leinster fly-half Sexton arrived in the Irish camp nursing a hamstring problem but he is on course to lead his country in Cardiff.


“I trained fully today [Wednesday] with the group and thankfully I got through that OK, so all available for selection,” said Sexton following concerns for Ireland over an injury sustained playing for Leinster at Munster on January 23.

Meanwhile, Peter O’Mahony says Ireland must swiftly forget about the loss of the exceptional Caelan Doris and focus on executing a seamless back row reshuffle. Doris was tipped to shine in this year’s tournament but he prematurely left the Irish camp after suffering with concussion symptoms.

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Andy Farrell and Johnny Sexton set the scene for Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations campaign
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Andy Farrell and Johnny Sexton set the scene for Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations campaign

The enforced absence of the 22-year-old, who was arguably his country’s standout performer in the Autumn Nations Cup, presents a major dilemma for head coach Andy Farrell ahead of Sunday’s tournament opener away to Wales.

Munster flanker O’Mahony is expected to occupy one of the three loose forward spots in Cardiff and believes there is sufficient desire within the squad to overcome a significant blow to the plans laid for the forwards by new assistant Paul O’Connell.

“It’s not tough. You’ve six or seven back-rowers here who are fighting for three spots,” the 31-year-old said of Doris being sidelined. “The big thing about it is, you don’t want to see one of your men go down, and Caelan has been one of the outstanding Irish players in the last probably 18 months, two years.


“He’s been exceptional and he certainly will be a big loss, but there are guys who are hungry and we demand that when someone goes down there’s someone there and it’s as seamless as possible.

“And that’s the way it has to be in international rugby, you can’t be waiting for people. Everyone in the group was gutted to see him go home but, at the same time, there are guys there who are chomping at the bit to get a go, myself included.”


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