Six Nations 2015: Johnny Sexton fit to face Wales
Ireland talisman is back in training and declared ready to go after hamstring problem threatened to derail his championship
Johnny Sexton has been passed fit for Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations “Grand Slam semi-final” against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Assistant coach Richie Murphy confirmed that the Ireland talisman had recovered from hamstring problems and returned to full training on Tuesday.
It looks like a full deck to pick from, and everyone is very upbeat…Having everyone fit and healthy is a massive thing for the squad because it puts pressure on everyone.
There was more good news for head coach Joe Schmidt as centre Jared Payne and flanker Sean O’Brien (pictured above) are close to completing their return from concussion, while number eight Jamie Heaslip is also back in contention.
Leinster captain Heaslip sat out the 19-9 win over England after a knee in the back from France lock Pascal Pape damaged his transverse process.
“Johnny took full part in training this morning; he has done all the team stuff and trained well,” said Murphy.
“Everyone else has come through, Jamie trained Monday and Tuesday so he’s fit and healthy and ready to go.
“And the two boys, Jared and Sean O’Brien both passed their return to play protocols.
“They have done contact today, so as long as there’s no reaction over the next 24 hours they are both fit and ready to go.
“It looks like a full deck to pick from, and everyone is very upbeat.
“Everyone enjoyed that session this morning, the intensity was right up there.
“Having everyone fit and healthy is a massive thing for the squad because it puts pressure on everyone.
“The environment gets a nice little buzz off that.”
Sexton, who missed Ireland’s win over Italy in the opening round of the championship, limped out of the win over England after helping steer his country to a record-equalling 10th consecutive win.
His kicking drills, he’s probably not hitting them 100 per cent yet, but today’s Tuesday, Saturday is a long way away. He’ll be ready to go.
Richie Murphy on Johnny Sexton’s fitness progress
Ireland coaches said on Monday that the Racing Metro outside-half had to prove his fitness for the Wales clash, with Munster’s Ian Keatley and Leinster’s Ian Madigan ready to step up.
A win in Cardiff would see Schmidt’s men set a new Irish record for consecutive wins and take a step closer to a first Grand Slam title since 2009.
But Murphy is confident that Sexton will be ready to go at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday with a full week of training behind him.
“He’s dealing with the rehab guys really, so they have him on a programme bringing him through that,” he added.
“He kicked a couple of balls on Sunday, did a little bit more yesterday and more again today.
“So he’s in a good place, he trained fully and was running at 100 per cent today.
“He will be ready for the weekend.
“His kicking drills, he’s probably not hitting them 100 per cent yet, but today’s Tuesday, Saturday is a long way away. He’ll be ready to go.”