Ireland’s Sexton ruled out of France clash
Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton has been ruled out of his side’s Six Nations championship match against France on Saturday through injury leaving a place open for either Paddy Jackson or Ian Madigan.
Coach Declan Kidney, who named the remainder of his team on Tuesday, will decide later this week whether to give Leinster’s Madigan his debut or retain Ulster’s Jackson who struggled with place kicking in his debut against Scotland last time out.
Elsewhere Fergus McFadden comes in on the wing for the injured Craig Gilroy, Mike McCarthy returns after injury to the second row and Cian Healy is back at loosehead prop after serving a one-match suspension.
“Just before I walked in the decision was taken to withdraw Johnny Sexton but that Paddy will be good to go at training on Thursday,” Kidney told a news conference, referring to a tight hamstring that kept Jackson from training on Tuesday.
“Paddy trained in the position yesterday, Ian trained there this morning and I’m sure they’ll both be available on Thursday and we’ll then make the call.”
The defeat to Scotland, Ireland’s second loss in three matches in this season’s campaign, has piled the pressure on Kidney who oversaw a disappointing Six Nations last year and is out of contract this year.
Sexton, bound for French side Racing Metro next season, should be fit for Ireland’s final outing against Italy along with Ulster wing Gilroy who will train again later this week after suffering a groin injury, Kidney added.
McFadden, who has not been part of the match day squad this year but who has place kicked for Leinster, leapfrogged club mate Luke Fitzgerald to start in place of Gilroy.
Kidney said Madigan or Jackson would be front-runners to take any penalties or conversions on Saturday but that it was good to have a reserve kicker on the field where possible.
Team: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Fergus McFadden, 13-Brian O’Driscoll, 12-Luke Marshall, 11-Keith Earls, 10-Paddy Jackson/Ian Madigan, 9-Conor Murray, 8-Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7-Sean O’Brien, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 5-Donnacha Ryan, 4-Mike McCarthy, 3-Mike Ross, 2-Rory Best, 1-Cian Healy
Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-David Kilcoyne, 18-Stephen Archer/Michael Bent, 19-Donncha O’Callaghan, 20-Iain Henderson, 21-Eoin Reddan, 22-Paddy Jackson/Ian Madigan, 23-Luke Fitzgerald.