independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

I wanted to stay with Leinster, insists Jonny Sexton

Jonny Sexton says there are no hard feelings over the IRFU decision not to offer him the same contract as his team-mates

JONNY SEXTON insists he would have stayed at Leinster had he been offered a package to put him on a par with the province's top earners.

The Ireland and Lions out-half takes up a two-year deal with French Top 14 side Racing Metro this summer after failing to agree a new deal with the IRFU.

And in an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, the 27-year-old suggested he would have stayed in Ireland had an offer been made to put him on par with Leinster's biggest stars.

He revealed that such a deal would have been enough to persuade him to stay at Leinster – even though it would have fallen roughly €150,000 per annum below the €600,000 he is reported to earn in Paris.

"Maybe I rated myself too highly, I don't know," Sexton said.

"I obviously wanted to be on a par with the best players here and that wasn't happening. That's their (the IRFU's) prerogative.

"I mean I sourced a couple of people and asked: 'Listen, am I getting ahead of myself here? Am I in that bracket of player? Or am I in the second tier with the other guys?'

"It's a difficult situation to talk about. From the start, it was always about trying to get the best deal that you can get, a deal that matches other players, I suppose.

"Obviously the union are under restrictions and certain financial strains and all that. They've got to look after themselves.

"Listen, I'm big enough to realise that they made a decision based on . . . they didn't want to put me in that bracket and that's fair enough. There's literally no hard feelings.

"They've done what they feel is best. I suppose they'll have three Irish qualified out-halves playing with the provinces next year and one playing abroad.

"That's one extra out-half playing Heineken Cup rugby. You know, it could be a good thing, it could benefit the Irish team."

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