- Title: Ireland coach Schmidt confident on Sexton fitness
- Date: 25th January 2017
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JANUARY 25, 2017) (REUTERS) NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRELAND HEAD COACH, JOE SCHMIDT, SAYING: "Yeah, Johnny took a bruised calf into the game against Castres. So, you know, I think we're pretty confident there's not a lot of damage there. Nothing's showing up that's overly significant. So, the plan is that Johnny's already started back doing a little bit. He'll continue that through the next couple of days and we're confident that he'll be able to train next week and therefore be fully available for Scotland." NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRELAND HEAD COACH, JOE SCHMIDT, SAYING: "I've been in touch with Ian (Madigan) and it was great to see him get a good head out although I'm sure Beastie doesn't agree last weekend but you know he would slot back in pretty seamlessly for us and that's still potentially something that we could look at." NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRELAND HEAD COACH, JOE SCHMIDT, SAYING: "Good, yeah, to put an actual number on it I said the first couple of years a top two finish would be great. I know last year I said a top three finish would be a good Six Nations for us just where we were at the time. We've got to try to strive to get into that top two again. It's hard to say anything beyond that because the Six Nations is going to be the most competitive I've been involved in. In the four years this'll be the fourth time I've been involved. I just think there's so many teams that have good references points coming from November. That have good continuity." NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 8th February 2017 14:29
- Keywords: Ireland rugby Six Nations
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Rugby Union,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA00160KXTMN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is confident veteran flyhalf Johnny Sexton will be fully fit for his country's opening Six Nations Championship fixture away to Scotland in a little under two weeks.
Sexton picked up a calf injury in Leinster's 24-24 draw with Castres on Friday, and Schmidt said even if he does not pull through, Paddy Jackson is an able deputy, with uncapped centre Rory Scannell also an option at number 10.
"We are pretty confident that there's not a lot of damage there. Johnny is starting back doing a little bit, we'd be confident he'll be able to train next week and therefore be fully available for Scotland," Schmidt said at the tournament launch in London on Wednesday.
Schmidt also hinted at a possible recall for flyhalf Ian Madigan, who plays for Bordeaux Begles in France, although said Irish-based players tend to be favoured over those plying their trade abroad.
"He would slot back in seamlessly for us and that is potentially something we could look at," Schmidt said.
Alongside holders England, Ireland are favourites for the 2017 tournament after wins over New Zealand and Australia last autumn.
Schmidt said he was aiming for a "top two" finish but added that it was the most competitive tournament he had faced in four years as Ireland's coach.
Ireland play Scotland at Murrayfield on Feb. 4.
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