(Reuters) – Injured fly-half Johnny Sexton will join Ireland’s training squad in Portugal in the hope that the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year can recover to play some part in the side’s Six Nations title defence.
The 33-year-old Leinster halfback, who has been inactive since picking up a knee injury last month, was named in the 38-man squad by coach Joe Schmidt and will continue his recuperation under the eye of Irish medical staff.
Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi said Sexton’s lack of game time would not hinder his chances of playing for Ireland when he was eventually fit.
“When you speak about a guy like Johnny Sexton with so much experience and so many games under his belt, I think the crucial thing is to see how fit he is rather than game time,” Contepomi told reporters.
“He’s got a lot of experience, so it’s about his fitness. If his leg is fine, I don’t see that as a problem.”
Leinster boss Leo Cullen was confident that Sexton would even be ready for Ireland’s Six Nations opener against England in Dublin on Feb. 2.
“Johnny is good. He is not a million miles away,” Cullen told the BBC. “Hopefully we will see him out in green over the course of the next few weeks.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)