Six Nations 2014: Jonathan Sexton injury confusion as Ireland and Racing Metro issue conflicting reports

Sexton suffered damage to his thumb ligament but while Racing have ruled him out for between 10 days and six weeks, Ireland believe he could still face Italy next week

Ireland and Racing Metro are at loggerheads over the severity of Jonathan Sexton's thumb injury, casting the fly-half's RBS Six Nations campaign into doubt.

Ireland's medical team and Paris club Racing's management hold conflicting opinions on Sexton's chances of a quick return from the thumb ligament damage he suffered in Saturday's 13-10 defeat to England at Twickenham.

Sexton's French club ruled the 28-year-old playmaker out of action for between 10 days and six weeks on Thursday, a timescale that could all-but end his Six Nations action.

Ireland bosses later issued a statement rejecting concerns Sexton was already out of contention to face Italy in Dublin on Saturday, March 8.

 

Racing Metro coach Laurent Labit said through the club's Twitter account: "Johnny Sexton returned from Twickenham with a thumb ligament injury, and will be unavailable between 10 days and six weeks."

The IRFU quickly responded with a statement of their own however, claiming Sexton could yet be fit to face the Azzurri.

"The Ireland medical team have had a consultant hand specialist review Johnny and his scans," read the IRFU statement.

"The ligament damage sustained does not warrant surgery and if Johnny continues his current rate of improvement we would be confident that he will be available for selection against Italy."

Ireland are locked in a four-way fight for the Six Nations title, and losing chief backline architect Sexton would be a major blow.

Head coach Joe Schmidt's men travel to Paris to face France in their final fixture on Saturday, March 15, a week after hosting the Italians.

England, Wales, France and Ireland have all lost one of their three matches in the tournament so far.

Ireland could claim their first title since their 2009 Grand Slam with two more victories.

This latest twist in Sexton's onrunning club-versus-country saga does little to ease the tug-of-war over the former Leinster outside-half that has raged since his move to France last summer.

Schmidt admitted Ireland had "lost control" of Sexton during the autumn Test series, when the star playmaker suffered a hamstring strain on club duty in the middle of the November international schedule.

Sexton left Twickenham on Saturday with his hand in a splint, Schmidt had revealed on Monday.

The 41-cap fly-half returned to France after Ireland's slender England defeat, with Racing expecting him to face Castres in Top 14 league action this weekend.

His Paris club have ruled him out of action though, and cast his Six Nations into doubt in the process.

Schmidt had admitted on Monday he may have looked to rest Sexton against Italy even if he found fitness, in order to keep squad players sharp.

So irrespective of Sexton's fitness, the Ireland coach could turn to Ulster's Paddy Jackson to lead the backline against Italy, with Leinster's Ian Madigan the potential understudy.

Despite Ireland's clear chances of Six Nations glory, Schmidt still rates England as title favourites.

"I think England are going to be the toughest team to beat without a doubt," said Schmidt, warning Ireland to be extremely wary of Italy's threats.

"One of the problems for us is making sure that Italy is our full focus and that it stays that way over the next few days and next week.

"They have a very experienced, very powerful front-row and with Sergio Parisse at number eight he's one of the world's best anchoring that set-piece.

"Across the board I don't think we'll get anything easy against Italy.

"There's a real danger that there's an expectation we'll put a 10 or 20-point margin on them.

"All we want is a margin that gives us the two points for the win, and that will be tough enough.

"Ireland lost to them last year, France lost to them last year: there's a real danger in us looking too far forward.

"We've got to put ourselves in the position to be able to win the championship, and the only way we can do that is to beat Italy first and foremost."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game