Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton set to face Wallabies in Dublin

Last Updated: 11/11/13 7:18am

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Jonathan Sexton: Expected to face Australia

Jonathan Sexton: Expected to face Australia

Sky Bet

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt admits he will find it difficult to leave Jonathan Sexton out of his side to face Australia on Saturday.

The British and Irish Lions fly-half missed the 40-9 victory over Samoa with a hip problem but is expected to return to action for the visit of the Wallabies to the Aviva Stadium.

New boss Schmidt was buoyed by the performance of Ulster outside-half Paddy Jackson's as Ireland scored five tries.

But he also conceded Racing Metro star Sexton is in pole position to start against Australia in the second of their autumn internationals.

"Obviously the coaches will get together and will make a decision," said Schmidt.

"One great thing about Jonny is he's well known to me, he's well known to (assistant coach) Les (Kiss), and Plum (forwards coach John Plumtree) doesn't care because he's not a forward!

"We would have to strongly consider Jonny coming back in. He does bring that experience and that quality that we know he has.

"He wasn't the starting Lions out-half for no reason. But I'd have to take my hat off to Paddy Jackson.

"I think that he's had to do it pretty tough at times, being thrown in as a very young man and having to direct some very impressive men around the park.

"I think he said during the week about telling Paul O'Connell where he needs to be and feeling a little bit intimidated himself. I feel the same intimidation."

Sexton might remain first-choice fly-half but Schmidt admitted the battle for the understudy role remains fiercely competitive.

"I just feel that Ian Madigan hasn't had too many opportunities this year, but he came on and you immediately saw a little bit of spark," added Schmidt.

"He wasn't at 10 but his versatility allowed us to rest Drico (Brian O'Driscoll) a bit and get him on there.

"I think at 10 we are building a little bit of depth and I hope that continues to grow and part of that growth is having a competitive environment."

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