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Ireland to bid for 2023 Rugby World Cup

Ireland celebrate a victory over Australia in Dublin last month. Credit: PA

An all-Ireland bid to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup will be unveiled today.

Political leaders from the Northern Ireland Executive and Irish government will join senior officials from the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) to outline their ambition to jointly host the sport's showpiece event.

Both administrations have been engaged in a preliminary assessment exercise over the last 10 months to weigh up the feasibility of submitting an official bid.

The all-Ireland bid is expected to be given the go-ahead at an event in Armagh this morning.

Ireland confirm Henry brain injury

Ireland's Chris Henry during a press conference at Carton House Hotel just before the South Africa game. Credit: PA

Chris Henry suffered 'a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain' on the morning of Ireland's clash with the Springboks, team bosses have confirmed.

Ireland medics initially diagnosed a virus on the morning of the November 8 clash before suspecting a severe migraine, but specialists have since determined the Ulster flanker suffered a more unusual condition.

The 30-year-old missed Ireland's 29-15 Springboks victory and now 'needs further investigation and specialist opinion,' according to an Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) statement.

Chris Henry suffered some weakness on the morning of the South Africa game and a viral illness was suspected, he recovered quickly and the initial diagnosis was of severe migraine.

Further tests however have shown he suffered a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain.

He is at home now and is well but needs further investigation and specialist opinion.

– Irish Rugby Football Union statement.


England boss Lancaster confident in Watson ability

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has given his backing to winger Anthony Watson ahead of his first international start.

Watson, 20, made his debut in the defeat to Australia on Saturday, but gets a place in the side from kick-off against South Africa this weekend.

Anthony Watson will start against South Africa. Credit: PA

"Anthony has been pushing hard for a while," said Lancaster. "He has got all the physical attributes you need. He's tall, good in the air, has pace and good footwork. Now his experience will be tested.

"His chance has come because of the injury to Roko, and his form for Bath this season, but also because of the conversation I had with him before the New Zealand match.

"It would have a big step for a 20-year-old to go into a match against the world champions from the start but what came across was how confident he was and how prepared he was. He is definitely ready."

Sexton up for world player of the year award

Sexton has been on fine form in the last year. Credit: PA

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton has been nominated for the 2014 International Rugby Board world player of the year award.

Sexton, who played an instrumental role when Ireland beat South Africa last weekend, is among five nominations announced by the IRB.

The 29-year-old has been joined on the shortlist by South Africa full-back Willie le Roux and Springboks number eight Duane Vermeulen, and New Zealand wing Julian Savea and All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick.

Lancaster optimistic over concussed forwards

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is hopeful that forwards Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley will be fit to face South Africa on Saturday.

Both players suffered head injuries against New Zealand at the weekend, but Lancaster is optimistic that they will pass the mandatory concussion tests.

Courtney Lawes, back, and Dylan Hartley, front, should be fine to play. Credit: PA

"Courtney is symptom-free so hopefully he will be okay. Dylan has also got bit of a head knock and is in the same situation," Lancaster said.

"They need to train on Thursday to be ready. They will do a cog Test on Thursday morning which they have to pass to train.

"We will have provisions in place should they fail that, but we are optimistic will be available."

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