Ireland rest Sexton for Japan clash at Rugby World Cup

Jonathan Sexton during Ireland Rugby squad training at the Ichihara Suporeku Park in Ichihara, Japan.
Jonathan Sexton during Ireland Rugby squad training at the Ichihara Suporeku Park in Ichihara, Japan.
Image: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland have rested World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton for their Pool A clash against Japan after the flyhalf picked up a leg injury that prevented him from kicking against Scotland.

Coach Joe Schmidt has stuck with 11 of the team that recorded an impressive 27-3 win over their Celtic rivals and welcomes back fullback Rob Kearney and winger Keith Earls into the starting XV after injuries.

Earls has scored eight World Cup tries, an Ireland record, and trails only legendary centre Brian O'Driscoll in their all-time list for Test tries.

There is still no place in the squad for star centre Robbie Henshaw, who is recovering from a hamstring injury.

Schmidt has retained the pack that was so dominant against Scotland, keeping faith with a powerful second row of James Ryan and Iain Henderson backed by No 8 CJ Stander, who was man of the match against Scotland.

Rory Best will captain the side for the 36th time for Saturday's game in Shizuoka, equalling fellow hooker Keith Wood.

Ireland, who came into the tournament as the world number one side, made light work of a disappointing Scotland in a game that confirmed their status as one of the favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

They have never won a knock-out match at the World Cup and are likely to face a tough challenge with a quarter-final against the Springboks, who should finish second in Pool B.

Ireland (15-1)

Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Chris Farrell, Jacob Stockdale; Jack Carty, Conor Murray; CJ Stander, Josh Van der Flier, Peter O'Mahony; James Ryan, Iain Henderson; Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (capt), Cian Healy

Replacements: Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadgh Beirne, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour

- AFP

 

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