Cape Town – The Irish have their fair share of injuries going into their three-Test series against South Africa, but none will be felt more than the absence of star flyhalf Johnny Sexton.
Sexton was instrumental in Ireland’s 29-15 win over the Boks in Dublin back in 2014, and he has racked up 64 Tests – three for the British and Irish Lions – since making his debut in 2009.
There is no doubt that the loss of the 30-year-old, who was ruled out of the tour when he picked up a shoulder injury while on duty for Leinster last weekend, will hurt Ireland’s charge.
Sexton joined backline players Dave Kearney, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald on the injured list, but his loss will surely be felt the most.
“Any side that loses a player of Johnny’s quality will have
to adapt and look for other players to step up,” Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby told reporters from the team hotel in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“But we can’t look at what’s not
here, we’ve got to focus on what we have and focus on the qualities of the guys
that are available to us.
“Johnny has that ability but Ian Madigan, Paddy Jackson
also have that ability. They can play certain ways: can play to the line, they
can play in the pocket and play the corners … all those elements are going to
be really important for us come the weekend.”