Rob Kearney and Jared Payne have both lost their fitness battles for Ireland’s crucial World Cup clash with Italy on Sunday.
“He’s got bruising, with inflammation and discomfort but that’s getting better by the day”.
Schmidt, who has guided the Irish to successive Six Nations titles something they had achieved only once before back in the late 1940’s, said Kearney could have been risked but Payne’s case was more serious.
“It’s just the frustration that he hasn’t been able to train fully”.
France leads Pool D with 14 points from three matches, four clear of Ireland and 10 ahead of Italy, which still retains a very slim chance of advancing.
“I remember the first training session we did at Leinster when he came, we did passing the high ball, and it’s proved out to be really important for a lot of the team’s success over the last few years”.
“Rob’s probably fit to play”.
“It’s often hard to talk about a teammate without putting another one down but with Jared he makes everyone play better”, said Sexton.
Simon Zebo will start against Italy with Keith Earls at outside centre, where victory will secure Joe Schmidt’s side qualification for the quarter-finals.
Having started the opening two games for Ireland on the wing, scoring twice against Romania last weekend, Earls moves into the midfield due to Jared Payne’s injury-enforced absence.
Devin Toner’s performance at Wembley sees him preferred to Donnacha Ryan on the bench, where he is joined by Ian Madigan and Luke Fitzgerald.
However, Henshaw is now over a hamstring problem and can get a few valuable playing time at the Olympic Stadium ahead of the table-topping decider between the Irish and France in Cardiff on October 11.
“They made a really good combination during the Six Nations”.
“We just felt Keith had shown a real sharpness at centre in the pre-season match in Wales”, said Schmidt.
Tommy Bowe has forced his way back into the line-up after returning to form against Romania.
“We will monitor him before we make a decision as to whether he is selected or not”.