Monday 24 November 2014

'I made the choice for my family' - Jonny Sexton announces Leinster return

Published 04/09/2014 | 16:15

As exclusively revealed in the Irish Independent a number of weeks ago, Jonathan Sexton has confirmed that he will return to Leinster when his current contract with Racing Metro expires at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old has signed a new four-year contract to return to Leinster taking him up to the World Cup in 2019.

"It's a choice I made for my family, my international career," he said. "We are missing Ireland and our family in Ireland are missing us."

"I have a great rapport with everyone here, it was a very hard decision to make.

"I haven't spoken to any other French club other than Racing.

"Now, I don't want contract talk but to concentrate on Racing. I don't regret at all coming to France or Racing, it has been an incredible experience.

"I grew up playing my rugby in Leinster and always wanting to pull on the blue jersey so I am delighted to be able to return."

Jonathan and his wife Laura celebrated the birth of their first child Luca on June 28.

It is understood that Racing made a counter-offer to keep Sexton in Paris but he declined it.

"Jonathan Sexton has decided to return to Ireland next season, it's unfortunate but we accept it," said Racing owner Jackie Lorenzetti.

IRFU CEO Philip Browne, said, "Jonathan is one the best out-halves in world rugby and the IRFU are delighted that he will be playing his rugby in Ireland. Irish rugby will benefit hugely from having a player of his calibre playing full-time in Ireland."

According to French sports newspaper L'Equipe today, Racing Metro and their owner Jackie Lorenzetti are looking at bringing in Remi Tales from Castres Olympique as a replacement for the 29-year-old.

Johnny Sexton sustained a broken jaw during Racing Metro's Top 14 clash with Toulon on Saturday and is sidelined for up to eight week but should be back for the November internationals.

Last season he was forced to play 13 games in 12 weeks after swapping Dublin for Paris, suffering a leg problem that threw his autumn series into doubt.

Sexton came through that scare, but that left Ireland head coach Schmidt determined to bring his sole frontline star operating abroad - and outside of IRFU control - back to home soil.

Sexton admitted last term that he was struggling to adapt to life in France and has now confirmed his impending Leinster return.

Ireland will now hope that Sexton's return will nudge a host of out-of-contract stars to sign new deals to remain at the country's provinces next term, for the crucial run to the World Cup.

Leinster and Ireland were able to persuade the likes of Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip not to follow Sexton's France switch last term.

Jonathan made 110 appearances for Leinster between 2006 and 2013 scoring 1,015 points for the province. While at Leinster he won three European Cups, two Pro12 titles and a Challenge Cup.

Sexton made his Ireland debut in the 41-6 victory over Fiji in November 2009. The 29 year old has won 45 caps for Ireland scoring 391 points. His most recent appearance for Ireland was in the 23-17 defeat of Argentina on the 2014 Summer Tour.

He played in all five games of Ireland's 2014 RBS 6 Nations Championship winning campaign and toured with the 2013 series winning British & Irish Lions squad starting in all three Tests against Australia.

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