Rugby Union

Johnny Sexton passed fit for Ireland's World Cup quarter-final clash

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Johnny Sexton has convinced Ireland to pitch him into Sunday's World Cup quarter-final against Argentina despite lingering concerns over a groin injury.

Ireland have opted to gamble on throwing in their linchpin fly-half from the start against the Pumas in Cardiff, even though the Leinster pivot has fought a fitness battle all week.

Sexton trudged out of Ireland's 24-9 victory over France at the Millennium Stadium after just 25 minutes last weekend, then immediately set about working to be ready for the last-eight encounter.

While Ireland have named their premier playmaker in their starting line-up, the 30-year-old will still most likely use all the available time until Sunday to ensure his groin issue has healed completely.

Ireland must face Argentina without pivotal pack leaders Paul O'Connell, Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien, and have chosen to address the problem by drafting Jordi Murphy into their back row.

Chris Henry starts at openside flanker as expected, with Iain Henderson therefore slotting in alongside Devin Toner at lock.

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has resisted the temptation to shift Henderson to blindside flanker and pair Donnacha Ryan with Toner, keeping the changes to a minimum after captain O'Connell's tournament and Test-career ending hamstring injury.

O'Connell headed to London for surgery on his torn hamstring on Thursday but was expected to return to Ireland's World Cup camp and be on hand for the build-up to the last-eight battle.

O'Mahony has already returned to Cork as he starts the long process of recovering from knee ligament damage.

O'Brien will sit out Sunday's Pumas clash owing to his one-match ban for punching France's Pascal Pape in the first minute of last weekend's Pool D decider.

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