World Player of the Year Jonathan Sexton is nursing a suspected dislocated thumb ruling him out of full participation in Ireland's World Cup training camp.
The Independent report today that the injury is not thought to be significant enough to rule the St Marys man out of the Rugby Wolrd Cup warm-up games. Sexton's weakness can be the understudies' opportunity though, and will be keen to use the time to impress Joe Schmidt.
Joey Carbery, Jack Carty and Ross Byrne are the three men in the extended training squad hoping to force Schmidt's hand. Carberry is the apparent heir to the out-half throne but his participation this season has been hampered by persistent injury. The Auckland born pivot only made 15 appearances for the province last season.
Carbery though made his move to Munster with Schmidt's blessing. The aim is to take the number 10 shirt from Sexton. Despite the injuries the coach clearly trusts Carbery, he gave the ex-Leinster man his debut in the win against the All Blacks.
Carty is the relative 'bolter' amongst the half-backs. The Connacht man has been consistent for the Western Province for the last three years. His selection was a due reward for those collective performances. Carty featured three times off the bench during the 2019 Six Nations.
Ross Byrne meanwhile has stepped up to the plate for Leinster this season. He featured regularly for the province as Sexton's year was heavily managed with an eye on the busy Autumn schedule. He delivered in spades including scoring 22 points against Munster in the Pro14 semi-final. Byrne has been the Leinster top points scorer for the last two seasons, but looks to be fourth in the pecking order currently.
The IRFU refused to make an official comment on the extent of Sexton's injury. The Independent report it to be a potential dislocation of Sexton's thumb.
There will be a media briefing at an open training session in Galway later this week, perhaps there will be further clarification then. The good news for fans is that as well as being able to get their hands on another new jersey on Friday, Sexton should be fit for the World Cup warm-up games.
Ireland's sequence of four warm-up games kicks off at The Aviva on August 10th against Italy. Joe Schmidt's men then travel to Twickenham and The Principality before returning to the Aviva on September 7th for a second game with Wales.
Ireland's first Rugby World Cup pool game will be against Scotland on September 22nd in the Kobe City Misake Park Stadium.