Double boost for Leinster as Sexton and Kearney set to return
Fit-again Johnny Sexton is set to hand Leinster a major boost ahead of next weekend's crucial Champions Cup clash against Montpellier as the out-half is in line for selection for Friday night's Pro12 meeting with Zebre.
Sexton has featured just four times for Leinster this season and hasn't played since he limped out of Ireland's defeat to New Zealand in November with a hamstring injury. Sexton has spent several weeks in the Santry Sports Clinic rehabbing his troublesome hamstrings, but having returned to Leinster training last week, the 31-year old was involved in Ireland's mini-camp at Carton House yesterday.
Leo Cullen resisted the temptation to play Sexton against Ulster on Saturday but ahead of the Champions Cup, he is likely to see some game-time against Zebre.
"He trained with us last week, he's training (with Ireland) now," Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey confirmed.
"He is in a really good place. He's very close, probably close to the end of his rehab programme.
"I think it was important to get to the crux of it, to resolve the issue. That's probably why it took so long. It would have been easy to get him to a stage, get him fit and roll him out, but who'd know when he'd break down again?
"Everyone feels we've got him to that stage now, he's back now and in contention, hopefully available for selection this week."
Sexton will take part in Leinster training later in the week before a final decision on his fitness is made, and Dempsey admitted that it would be "good for him" to see some action before the visit of Montpellier.
Leinster are also "hopeful" that Rob Kearney (ankle) will come back into contention having spent almost a month on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, as first revealed in the Irish Independent last month, Jaco Taute will remain with Munster until the end of the season after his loan agreement was extended.
That good news was however offset by the confirmation that Darren Sweetnam will be out for six weeks with a knee injury, while Tommy O'Donnell "will undergo further investigation" for the ankle injury he suffered in the win over Connacht.