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Ireland sweat over Sexton recovery

2015-10-14 10:45
Les Kiss (Gallo)

Cardiff - Ireland are holding out hope that injury-hit flyhalf Jonny Sexton will be fit for Sunday's quarter-final against Argentina, according to assistant coach Les Kiss.

Sexton limped off after 25 minutes of Ireland's hard-fought 24-9 victory over France last Sunday, a win that saw them undefeated in Pool D and avoiding a last-eight clash against defending champions New Zealand.

"Jonny has a slight adductor strain. There's been some improvement. Hopefully we'll see a little bit more on Wednesday and that'll give us a clearer picture," said Kiss.

"Each day will give us some more information."

Kiss insisted head coach Joe Schmidt would not be rushed into a decision about picking Sexton, for whom Ian Madigan came on against the French, putting down his own marker with an astute play-making display.

"We have to be pragmatic about what works and it will probably come down to the last minute when we make the decision," Kiss said.

"We do need to see where we're going each day with this one."

There were no concerns with Madigan taking the reins at number 10, should Sexton fail in his race to be fit, skipper Paul O'Connell, flank Peter O'Mahony and centre Jared Payne all having already been ruled out through injury.

"He's slotted in seamlessly," Kiss said of 26-year-old Madigan. "He's armed, he's ready, if it has to be the case he'll step forward."

Devin Toner also backed the Irish squad to rally around in the absence of locking partner O'Connell, an inspirational skipper whose Ireland career is now over as the 35-year-old joins European giants Toulon.

"He is the brains behind a lot of the forward game. For the team it's a massive loss," said Toner, who produced an accomplished game against France after being dropped for the earlier pool game against Canada.

"But it's happened before that we've lost players for games, that we've had to dig deep in our squad, and we have confidence in our squad these days to pull through.

"We've worked hard to forge that strength in depth and forge that strength in the squad and being able to do that the way we did (against France) was hugely positive and we can take that into the next game."

Kiss, an Australian former rugby league professional, predicted nothing but a tough all-round game against Argentina on Sunday at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

"We know it's going to be physical, we expect that without a doubt, but the thing they do show is a lot of skill," Kiss said.

"If they play (Nicolas) Sanchez and (Juan Martin) Hernandez at 12, that is a great opportunity to play off first and second receiver and unleash (Santiago) Cordero or (Juan) Imhoff or (Joan) Tuculet. The type of the damage they can do on the edges can hurt you for sure.

"It's a really broad challenge for us," the defence specialist acknowledged. "We've got a lot of respect for them."

Toner agreed that it would be a "massive Test", saying the free-running form of the Argentinian backline was directly related to playing in the Rugby Championship alongside Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

"I'm not surprised, no, because they're getting so much experience these days with the new competitions they have, they're getting so much more experience in big Tests.

"You can see how well they did against the All Blacks, they played really well against them," the lock said in reference to the Pumas' 26-16 opening Pool C defeat by the defending champions.

"They've scored 22 tries so far. They're a really dogged team, they mix their physicality with their speed and I can't say it enough, they're dangerous and we're going to have to be on our toes. They've got quality all over the field."

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