Injuries and squad depth concerns mean Sexton should be left out
The squad for the Australian tour gets announced on Wednesday. In my view, Sexto should be left out. Not because of quality, he’s world class and gets in any team. But because of injuries and squad depth.
This year Sexton has played in the league, the European Cup, the Autumn internationals, and the Six Nations. Next season he’ll do the same, then play in the World Cup warm-ups before leaving for Japan. This is his only chance for a rest. Regardless of whether or not he plays in the Pro14 final he needs a break. He’s had injury problems in the past and needs to recover fully. Sexton is constantly targeted by opposition players, he needs a break. He won’t want to stay, but Sexton needs the rest.
The other reason he should be left at home is to build squad depth. Joey Carbery would greatly benefit from a run at 10, as would Ian Keatley or Ross Byrne. We need a 2nd choice fly-half with experience. Coming on for brief cameos won’t do it. During the last World Cup Sexton got injured and somebody had to step in. At the time it was Madigan, this time it’ll have to be somebody else. We’ll need a 2nd choice fly-half badly, this is the time to develop one.
The squad depth thought could also be applied to scrum half. Murray needs to build up a partnership with Carbery. However, the likes of Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath also need game time to give Ireland options. Maye that can wait until November, possibly during the Italy, Argentina, and USA match. I feel Murray and Sexton need to be tested against New Zealand and so it’s be better to play them both there. It would be beneficial if Marmion were to start one of the games, and get 20 minutes in another, playing at scrumhalf as opposed to on the wing.
Winning the Summer series would be great however saving players for the world cup and building depth is more important overall. And come 2019, that’ll be what really matters.
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Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport). He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.
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