In Brief

Ireland vs. England: Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell should be fit for Six Nations opener

England head coach Eddie Jones adds Jonathan Joseph to his squad

Ireland vs. England
  • What: 2019 Guinness Six Nations round one 
  • When: Saturday 2 February 
  • Where: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland 
  • Kick-off: 4.45pm (UK time)
  • TV channel: live on ITV

Ireland’s defence of the Six Nations title has been given a boost with news that Johnny Sexton is expected to be fit for the championship opener against England.

Fly-half Sexton is recovering from a knee injury but returned to training this week. Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says the 33-year-old is confident of playing against England in Dublin on 2 February.

Schmidt told the BBC: “He’ll train fully on Thursday and we will then ramp up his training. Our expectation is that he will get through it without any problems. Johnny is confident and the medical staff are confident.”

Ireland do have some injury worries though with second-row forwards Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne set to miss the opening rounds. The duo are not expected to be fit until the France game on 10 March.

‘We’re not clear favourites’

Ireland come into the Six Nations as the favourites to win the opening match but Schmidt does not think this is the case.

“I don’t think we are clear favourites,” he said. “The psyche is one of enormous respect. You know if you don’t get things right, England can get a long way away from you.

“They are a team back on an upwards swing, and they will be driven to rebound well from last year’s Six Nations.”

Farrell confident and Joseph is added to squad

England captain Owen Farrell is also expected to be fit for the clash in Dublin.

The fly-half has been a doubt after a thumb injury, but he said: “I’m confident, yes. The hand is good. I should be training towards the end of this week.”

Bath star Jonathan Joseph has been added to the England squad for the Six Nations opener. The centre, who has won 40 caps, has proved his fitness playing for his club.

England head coach Eddie Jones and his 36-man squad will leave for a training camp to Portugal. Jones will then select a squad of 25 to travel to Ireland for the match at the Aviva Stadium.

Squads

Ireland squad
  • Backs: Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway, John Cooney, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Tom Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale 
  • Forwards: Rory Best (captain), Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Ultan Dillane, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Iain Henderson, Dave Kilcoyne, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony (vice-captain), Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier
England squad
  • Forwards: Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Ben Earl (Saracens), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), Brad Shields (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
  • Backs: Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs), Owen Farrell (Saracens, captain), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
  • Players unavailable due to injury: Piers Francis (Northampton Saints), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)

2019 Six Nations fixtures and TV guide

Round one
  • 1 February: France vs. Wales (8pm, live on BBC) 
  • 2 February: Scotland vs. Italy (2.15pm, live on BBC); Ireland vs. England (4.45pm, live on ITV) 
Round two
  • 9 February: Scotland vs. Ireland (2.15pm, live on BBC); Italy vs. Wales (4.45pm, live on ITV) 
  • 10 February: England vs. France (3pm, live on ITV) 
Round three
  • 23 February: France vs. Scotland (2.15pm, live on BBC); Wales vs. England (4.45pm, live on BBC) 
  • 24 February: Italy vs. Ireland (3pm, live on ITV) 
Round four
  • 9 March: Scotland vs. Wales (2.15pm, live on BBC); England vs. Italy (3pm, live on ITV) 
  • 10 March: Ireland vs. France (4.45pm, live on ITV) 
Round five
  • 16 March: Italy vs. France (12.30pm, live on ITV); Wales vs. Ireland (2.45pm, live on BBC) 
  • 17 March: England vs. Scotland (5pm, live on BBC)

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