Johnny Sexton felt he was “blessed” after it was confirmed a thumb injury would not keep him out of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad.
Sexton has not featured for Ireland this season but is likely to feature against Wales in their final warm-up match on Saturday.
The 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year had been struggling with a thumb injury over recent weeks, but Joe Schmidt included him in the squad for Ireland’s World Cup campaign, which begins against Scotland on September 22.
Sexton has confirmed he sustained the injury during a training game and, after a month in a splint, his thumb has healed sufficiently enough for him to be able to make his 84th appearance for Ireland on Saturday, before heading to Japan.
“It’s all good, it was just an unfortunate injury really,” Sexton told RTE.
“[I was] playing touch rugby, fitness games and got my hand caught in between someone’s legs and I dislocated my thumb.
“Look, I was blessed that it ended up being fine. It was four weeks in a splint and then looking after it, then get out and get comfortable with the ball again and reintroduce the contact.
“Yeah, it could have been a hell of a lot worse. It could have been one of them nightmare scenarios where you have to get an operation and then you are struggling to play any rugby before you go.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 2, 2019
Though Sexton acknowledged it was difficult to cope with the thought of possibly missing out on the World Cup, the 34-year-old said the injury did enable him to focus on other areas in order to boost his fitness.
“I did a lot of extra running sessions and conditioning, which is good for me. It’s been a long time since I got a long block,” Sexton said.
“Sometimes after Lions tours you get a few weeks and then you are back into it and then the next season you are looking after injuries [so] it was good to get an extended pre-season really.
“Hopefully I’ll see the benefits of it on Saturday if I get out there. That first match back is always a shock to the system so I’m nervous about that but looking forward to it as well.”
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