Six Nations 2014: O’Mahony & Sexton injury concerns for Ireland

Six Nations 2014: Peter O'Mahony and Jonny Sexton are injury concerns for Ireland ahead of their Italy clash

Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton Photo: wynnert, via Flickr

Joe Schmidt has injury concerns over Peter O’Mahony and Jonathan Sexton ahead of next week’s Six Nations clash with Italy.

Racing Metro outside-half Sexton returned to his club with his hand in a splint after Saturday’s bruising 13-10 defeat by England at Twickenham.

It is a case of managing Pete this week so he can train next week

Joe Schmidt

Munster flanker O’Mahony’s hamstring problem has him doubtful for the Italians’ visit to Dublin.

“Peter O’Mahony has no respect for his body,” Schmidt told a media briefing at the Aviva Stadium. “He has had a fantastic series so far. His hamstring, there is a little bit of blood, so those things normally clear up reasonably quickly.

“It is a case of managing Pete this week so he can train next week.”

Ireland talisman Brian O’Driscoll should be back in training this week as the squad heads to Belfast after the 35-year-old suffered cramp.

But the decorated Leinster centre should be fit for a final run out at the Aviva Stadium to become Test rugby’s most-capped player.

“Brian O’Driscoll was cramp and he trained yesterday, individually, and he should train Wednesday and Thursday,” said Schmidt at today’s media briefing at the Aviva Stadium.

“He’s fine. He actually hasn’t had much game time this year in total so he’s still pretty fresh.”

Sexton, who injured his thumb against England, could feature in the Top 14 for Racing Metro this weekend as champions Castres visit Colombes.

“He hurt his thumb. It wasn’t bad. He was fully functional, he could still pass, he could still do everything. We are going to get more feedback on that over the next few days. Hopefully he will be fine,” Schmidt said of his outside-half.

“We got some scans to read and by Thursday when we are next out we’ll have some more information on that.

“There are guys, like Johnny and Peter, who may be getting some wear and tear about them and that may guide us in a particularly direction regarding selection.”

After Italy suffered a third successive defeat as Scotland outside-half kicked a last-minute drop-goal in Rome on Saturday, O’Driscoll’s swansong in Dublin could be a chance for Schmidt to tinker with his match-day squad to rest his star names ahead of the final match in France.

But the Ireland head coach declared his delight at the performance of his back three despite wingers Luke Fitzgerald, Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe on the comeback trail.

“We believe Dave Kearney has been outstanding so far,” he said. “A couple of his aerial takes at the weekend were outstanding. His ruck work was outstanding. Defensively his tackle quality has been good and when there’s not space he has been elusive.

“Andrew Trimble has been very effective for us as well.”

Ireland have a score to settle with Italy after going down 22-15 in Rome last year and must win to keep their Six Nations title ambitions on track.

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