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Ireland 00:00 South Africa

Ireland hope Brian O'Driscoll and Jonathan Sexton will be fit to face New Zealand

Last Updated: 21/11/13 11:43am

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Brian O'Driscoll: Missed training due to calf injury

Brian O'Driscoll: Missed training due to calf injury

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Ireland are optimistic that Brian O'Driscoll and Jonathan Sexton will be fit to take on New Zealand this weekend after both sat out training on Wednesday.

Veteran centre O'Driscoll is having treatment on a calf problem, while fly-half Sexton is nursing a hamstring injury ahead of the clash with the world champions in Dublin.

The British and Irish Lions pair remain doubtful to feature at the Aviva Stadium, but forwards coach John Plumtree insists time is on their side.

"It's hard to say if they'll be available. The nice thing is that we've got a long turnaround this week," Plumtree said.

"It's only Wednesday, so they've got a day off on Thursday and then come in on Friday. We've got that extra day which is great and hopefully by the time they come in on Friday they'll be feeling a lot better."

Plumtree also had encouraging news over the fitness of Lions full-back Rob Kearney, who returned to training as he continues his comeback from a rib injury.

"Rob trained all right. I'm not sure how he's feeling afterwards, but he took part full in the session, which was good. I'm sure he'll be all right," Plumtree added.

All three picked up injuries during Saturday's disappointing 32-15 defeat to Australia, and Plumtree has demanded vast improvements from his pack if they are to avoid another heavy loss against the All Blacks.

Very average

"We were very average against Australia and we're very disappointed with that performance. We scrummed poorly," Plumtree said.

"We conceded a soft try from their drive which the boys are fuming at. We knew it was coming, but we didn't execute the plan we had in place, which makes it doubly irritating.

"There's been an extra edge in the forwards this week and there has to be. We're playing against probably the best side in the world and the pack needs to front up big time.

"As a pack New Zealand are the ultimate test. It doesn't get any tougher than this and we were irritated with our performance last week."

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