Monday 18 December 2017

Heaslip back training but Sexton still on ice

Ireland's bionic man Jamie Heaslip could make a miraculous recovery to face Wales.

The number eight was thought to be an unlikely lad for the Millennium Stadium on foot of Pascal Pape's knee to the back which cracked three vertebrae in his lower back.

In Belfast yesterday, Heaslip (pictured) entered into many of the drills and is expected to take a full part at training next week, forwards coach Simon Easterby describing him as "hopefully ready to go" next week.

However, Jonathan Sexton sat out the session as he nursed a hamstring injury that could yet prevent his involvement.

The Irish coaches and medical staff are taking a cautious approach to man-managing their most influential player.

Concussion victims Seán O'Brien and Jared Payne took a measured part in the session in Ravenhill yesterday, stepping away from the contact element in order to continue their return-to-play protocols.

Meanwhile, England centre Jonathan Joseph has joined his boss Stuart Lancaster in criticising Ireland's style of play, admitting he would "find it difficult" to realise his potential in a side that kicked the ball 44 times.

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