No Sexton as Ireland go with Carty for Japan

HAMAMATSU, Japan (Reuters) - Flyhalf Jack Carty will make just his second start for Ireland against Japan on Saturday with Johnny Sexton not in the matchday 23 as coach Joe Schmidt made four changes to the team that comfortably beat Scotland in their World Cup Pool A opener.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup warm-up match - Wales v Ireland - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - August 31, 2019 Ireland's Jack Carty kicks a penalty Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Connacht’s Carty made his first start for Ireland last month but looked sharp off the bench against the Scots after Sexton came off midway through the second half having relinquished kicking duties earlier in the game after receiving a knock to the quad.

His main understudy Joey Carbery returned from injury to make the bench.

Rob Kearney and Keith Earls also recovered from the minor injuries that kept them out of the 27-3 win to return to the Irish backline where Chris Farrell comes in for Bundee Aki whom he efficiently replaced early on against Scotland.

“Obviously we’ve left a couple of guys out who trained on Tuesday but not fully and we decided to give ourselves certainty so we told him (Carty) he would be starting on Tuesday so he would get his head around it,” Schmidt told a news conference.

“I thought he came on and played really well against Scotland. That gives us confidence and just allows us to freshen guys up and work through a few combinations as we work our way through the pool and hopefully it will be a cohesive performance because it’s going to have to be against Japan because we know how good they can be.”

Schmidt named an unchanged pack after flanker Peter O’Mahony was able to train fully having passed his concussion assessments following a knock to the head cut his gametime short against Scotland. While the same applied to Aki, Schmidt said he probably was not due to play against Japan anyway.

Schmidt praised the 27-year-old Carty, who was not part of the Ireland set up until this year’s Six Nations, as the kind of calm individual who will not be fazed by the occasion in front of the home fans in Shizuoka.

Clearly not keen to risk Sexton too much before a potential quarter-final against South Africa, Schmidt was pleased his key playmaker “got a little bit of mileage under his belt” even if the experienced Leinster number 10 was itching to start having played some part in training this week.

“He’s never happy about being left out, he’s always looking to play but he had a good hit out against Scotland. We thought about bringing him off the bench and giving us the security off but we also have had a lot time for Joey and we wanted to get him involved as well,” Schmidt said.

“It just means that we take the pressure off Johnny a little bit this week. Johnny’s a guy who plays really well fresh and can come back in and hit the ground running. We’ve seen that both in Leinster and the national team. I’ve been involved coaching Johnny for almost 10 years so it’s not something I would be too concerned about.”

Squad: Ireland: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Keith Earls, 13-Garry Ringrose, 12-Chris Farrell 11-Jacob Stockdale, 10-Jack Carty, 9-Conor Murray, 8-CJ Stander 7-Josh van der Flier, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 5-James Ryan, 4-Iain Henderson, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 2-Rory Best (captain), 1-Cian Healy

Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Dave Kilcoyne, 18-Andrew Porter, 19-Tadhg Beirne, 20-Rhys Ruddock, 21-Luke McGrath, 22-Joey Carbery, 23-Jordan Larmour

Reporting by Padraic Halpin in New Delhi; editing by Amlan Chakraborty