Irish count the cost after bruising battle

Johnny Sexton (Gallo)
Johnny Sexton (Gallo)

Dublin - A quartet of key players including flyhalf Jonathan Sexton are major injury doubts for Ireland's Test with Australia next weekend said coach Joe Schmidt after Saturday's bruising 21-9 defeat by New Zealand.

Schmidt -- who guided the Irish to their first ever victory in 29 Test meetings over the world champions a fortnight ago -- said Sexton, fullback Rob Kearney, centre Robbie Henshaw and flanker CJ Stander will all be assessed with the latter three requiring Head Injury Assessments (HIA).

Ireland lost Sexton, to a hamstring problem, and both Henshaw and Stander in the first half-an-hour although Kearney played through.

"Rob Kearney, Robbie Henshaw and CJ Stander will all undergo HIA," said Schmidt.

"Jonathan Sexton has a hamstring issue and we will have an update on his situation either on Sunday or Monday.

"It was a pretty physical encounter."

The All Blacks didn't escape unscathed either with fullback Ben Smith and backrow forward Sam Cane doubts for their Test with France next Saturday.

"Ben has a compound fracture of a finger and Sam has a bad ankle," said coach Steve Hansen.

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