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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Schmidt: It’s Probably Paul’s Injury That Worries Me The Most

Schmidt: It’s Probably Paul’s Injury That Worries Me The Most

Ireland’s good run of luck with injuries appears to have ended this week. Jared Payne’s tournament-ending foot fracture was followed by Jonathan Sexton, captain Paul O’Connell and Peter O’Mahony’s early departures from the pitch against France this evening.

The trio – all big leaders in the team and important players in their positions – had to be taken off during Ireland’s bruising 24-9 Pool D win over the French, with head coach Joe Schmidt unable to give a positive update afterwards.

“It has come at a cost to us. Some of our leadership, some of our real talismen are in a little bit of doubt for next week and that’s a concern,” said Schmidt, who has now guided Ireland to three successive victories over les Bleus.

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Out-half Jonathan Sexton kicked Ireland into a 6-3 lead before having to come off following two crunching tackles, the second from France’s big number 8 Louis Picamoles.

Then, following the half-time whistle, there was the disappointing sight of captain Paul O’Connell being stretchered off, and flanker Peter O’Mahony also required the stretcher when he made way in the 54th minute.

Schmidt admitted: “Paul’s injury doesn’t look great to be honest, that would be a big blow for us. We’re going to wait and see, we probably won’t be able to get him scanned until tomorrow and we’ll know more by Tuesday. It looks like an upper hamstring.

“He was over the ball and just got hit down and through and as a result he felt that his hamstring came under real pressure and wasn’t able to continue after that.”

The injury could be severe enough to bring O’Connell’s fourth Rugby World Cup and his international career to a premature end. He is hanging up his boots at Test level after England 2015 and moving to France to play club rugby for Toulon.

The New Zealander will await scan results on the three players in the coming days, adding: “I’m sure not at the moment about Johnny’s injury…maybe an abductor. We’re going to have to have a look at what that damage is and maybe get a scan later on.

“It’s the best part of about two hundred-plus caps and it’s a real dent to our leadership group. Hopefully Pete’s not too bad, again his might have been a knee twist. He’s not looking too bad.

“He was walking pretty well in the changing room and hopefully he’s going to be okay. I’m not sure whether it’s the ankle or the knee because I haven’t had the chance to talk to him.

“I’ve spoken briefly to Johnny and he’s already talking about next week, so I’m not sure whether that means he’ll be playing or not. He’s never short of advice. It’s probably Paul who worries me the most of those three.”