herald

Saturday 21 April 2018

Sexton paying a high price

The pendulum of fortune has swung in the direction of Paddy Jackson as the likely candidate to start at out-half against Samoa in the first of the November internationals this Saturday.

Jonathan Sexton took part in training on Monday, only for his hip to stiffen up overnight, leaving him sidelined for Tuesday training, the day deemed the "cut-off" point by coach Joe Schmidt last week.

It would seem the impact on Sexton's body of 13 games in twelve weeks has come to haunt him on the one week he didn't want it to.

Schmidt can thank his lucky stars the benched Sexton (right) was not forced into action against Biarritz last Saturday, or there could have been more long-term damage done. He should be available for Australia.

However, Leinster's Ian Madigan is another one who might curse his misfortune. If Sexton has played too much, Madigan has played too little in the slipstream of Jimmy Gopperth.

The 24-year-old returned from the two-test tour to North America as the heir apparent, only to have played just two full sets of 80 minutes this season, neither in the Heineken Cup.

That said, his goal-kicking has been of the highest standard.

While Jackson may lack the dead-eye shooting of Madigan he has been ever-present for Ulster and is viewed as the man most likely to replace Sexton.

3RUGBY: PAGES 62-63

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