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

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?