Ireland taking care with Sexton

Date published: March 1 2015

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt revealed that taking off fly-half Jonathan Sexton early in the second half was only precautionary.

Sexton was in mercurial form for Ireland before he tweaked his hamstring converting Robbie Henshaw's try, the only one of the match.

“We felt that the position it was in the game, we felt it was pretty good to get him off," said Schmidt.

“He definitely felt it kicking the conversion which he managed to strike superbly, thankfully. As a result of that we thought it was probably the safer option to get him off the pitch.”

Ireland also lost flanker Sean O'Brien in the first half after a head collision, with Schmidt admitting the openside was 'grumpy' at not being able to continue.

“I think it might have been a head-to-head collision. It was hard to see in the replay to be honest but he’s going to go through the HIA protocols.

“He’s in there now, he’s a little bit grumpy because he couldn’t see out the match and he missed a big part of it but at the same time he’s feeling relatively well.”

Schmidt was delighted with his side's character as they held out England's resurgence in the second half, with Ireland making it ten Test wins in a row as they stay on track for a Grand Slam.

“With the quality of the English players, I just felt that the fact that we kept them off our try line was excellent. I thought we showed a lot of character in that last quarter when they were coming in swarms. The players can be very proud of the effort and the structure they maintained in that period," said Schmidt.

“A team coming of age is very difficult to quantify. Your team is always changing slightly. Today we would normally have had Jamie Heaslip and Seán O’Brien playing 80 minutes but instead we had Tommy O’Donnell and Jordi Murphy playing big parts. So is the squad maturing? I think you’d have to say that."