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No one expected Ireland to get through a four-game warm-up run without an injury but the hope was that misfortune would not befall a main man.
And as it happens, when Ireland select their strongest XV Joey Carbery is not on the sheet.
But, in old GAA parlance, he’s first sub, among the backs anyway.
It’s even more unfortunate because Carbery, who suffered an ankle injury against Italy while winning his 19th cap, doesn’t just provide a like-for-like replacement for Johnny Sexton, the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year.
The Munster man gives Joe Schmidt different options when it comes to game plans. If this year’s Six Nations taught us anything it’s that an ability to mix it up is going to be vital in forging a path to a World Cup semi-final.
Sexton was probably in line for some action this Saturday against England after recovering from a thumb injury but a heavy hit in training on Monday saw him miss training yesterday.
Risking Ireland’s chief playmaker in Twickenham is now not a luxury Schmidt can afford.
That means it comes down to Leinster’s Ross Byrne or Connacht’s Jack Carty to get the nod for a first start for their country.
Byrne was ahead of Carty in the pecking order for last year’s autumn games but a fin
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