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Johnny Sexton has been left out of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup clash with Japan after failing to recover from a thigh injury in time for the Pool B encounter, with Jack Carty starting at fly-half.
Sexton picked up a thigh injury during the 27-3 victory over Scotland, handing over the kicking duties to scrum-half Conor Murray as a result, and after sitting out training on Tuesday, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has elected not to risk the Leinster out-half against the tournament hosts.
Instead, Carty will start in a side that shows 12 of the same side who began against the Scots, though while Peter O’Mahony is retained, Bundee Aki is replaced by Chris Farrell despite both O’Mahony and Aki coming through the return-to-play protocols successfully following head injuries. With Sexton left out completely, Joey Carbery will cover fly-half from the bench.
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“Johnny’s never happy to be left out,” said Schmidt. “Johnny’s never happy about being left out, he’s always looking to play, but he had a good hit-out against Scotland, played through 55 minutes and got a bit of mileage under his belt there.
“We thought about his security off the bench but we also have a lot of time for Joey and wanted to get him involved as well. It just means we take the pressure off Johnny this week.
“Jack’s very calm, he doesn’t get ruffled easily, he doesn’t get distracted by an error he might make, or people trying to put pressure on him. So he stays in the zone very well.”
Schmidt also revealed that O’Mahony did not suffer a concussion despite failing his Head Injury Assessment against Scotland, with a breakdown in communication to blame as the team’s medical staff were also dealing with Aki’s HIA at the time. Nevertheless, Jack Conan had been slated to start against the Brave Blossoms, but a minor foot injury has ruled the Leinster back row out of the clash.
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