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Six Nations: Unscathed Sexton a huge boost for England clash

| 23.02.2015

Irish Rugby fans can uncross their fingers, toes and legs ahead of the defending Six Nations champions’ epic clash with England at the Aviva Stadium, after playmaker Johnny Sexton came through Racing Metro’s Top 14 clash with Clermont Auvergne.

Considering Sexton has missed much of Racing Metro’s season so far, and Ireland’s first Six Nations fixture away to Italy, it’s hardly surprising his employers wish to squeeze as much game-time as possible from the highest paid player on the planet.

However, after the battering the 29-year-old took when fronting up to bulldozing centre Mathieu Basteraud in Ireland’s 18-11 victory at home to France eight days earlier, there were plenty of hearts in mouths among the Shamrock-sporting faithful ahead of Sexton’s latest Gallic test.

As it is, Ireland boss Joe Schmidt only has one big injury concern ahead of the huge championship fixture, which will likely decide whether the trophy stays in Dublin or heads to Twickenham come the end of March.

Number eight Jamie Heaslip is out, probably for the rest of the tournament, with a broken back, meaning Schmidt must decide whether to play flanker Sean O’Brien there, as was the plan prior to the Tullow Tank’s injury in the warm up ahead of the 26-3 victory in Rome.

Jordi Murphy ended up at the base of the scrum that day, with Tommy O’Donnell moved over to number seven, but only one of them will make the XV if O’Brien’s dodgy shoulder holds up.

England full-back Mike Brown has not yet been cleared to play in Dublin, after last year’s player of the tournament suffered a concussion in the 47-17 home win over Italy. Saracens’ Alex Goode is on standby to fill the number 15 jersey.

It’s too close to call at present, with Ladbrokes offering 10/11 about both England and Ireland, while the draw is indicatively-low priced at 16/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Author

Alex Fortune