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Sexton a doubt for Springboks

Ian Keatley could be in line to make his Ireland debut against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Sadly, Jonathan Sexton was taken off while playing for Racing Metro against Oyonnax in the French Top 14 at the weekend, with what his club coach Laurent Labit called a hamstring "tweak".

The Irish management is known to be upbeat about the prospects of Sexton overcoming what appears to be minimal damage.

This is a case for careful consideration as Sexton pulled up with a hamstring strain against Australia this time last year and had to be monitored to make the New Zealand match.

In hindsight, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had made it his mission to upset his home country in a master plan that came up agonisingly short last November.

The difference here is that South Africa is the biggest scalp of the three available, the one Schmidt wants most.

However, Schmidt will have a Plan-B in place should Ireland's playmaker not be able to face the Springboks up-and-coming Handre Pollard, the 2014 U20 World Player of the Year.

The fact that Ulster's Paddy Jackson had been dropped from the original extended Ireland squad for the November series and that Ian Madigan has had such a lack of game time at fly-half supports the promotion of Keatley.

Twenty-seven-years-old Keatley, the ex-Belvedere College ten, has worked his way through to the higher levels of the game moving from Leinster to Connacht and on to Munster where he has succeeded Ronan O'Gara.

He has not played against a superpower of the game yet as his previous two came on the 2009 summer tour to Canada and the USA.


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