Sport Rugby

Friday 22 September 2017

Leinster maestro relishes 'special' derby clash but insists it's bigger than just a battle of No 10s

Sexton reckons that the rivalry between the two teams is bigger than the two No 10s.
Sexton reckons that the rivalry between the two teams is bigger than the two No 10s.

David Kelly and Ruaidhri O'Connor

JONNY SEXTON is fired up for his clash with Ronan O'Gara in tomorrow night's crunch Pro12 clash at the Aviva Stadium.

The out-halves have been battling it out for the Ireland No 10 jersey over the past number of seasons and their duel will be one of the main talking points after the first derby of the campaign but Sexton reckons that the rivalry between the two teams is bigger than the two No 10s.

"It's not about me versus Ronan O'Gara," said the St Mary's man. "It's Leinster versus Munster. That's the way and I've never looked at it as a one-on-one battle.

"At out-half, there are so many other things going on around you.

"Often it's very unfair to compare player against player after a game because one pack is on top or the other pack is on top and there are so many things that you rely on. So I've never really looked at it as a one-on-one battle."

Munster coach Rob Penney is likely to go with the tried and trusted experience of O'Gara as his side seek to stem a run of two successive away defeats.

Hooker Damien Varley yesterday breathed a sigh of relief as he was cleared to play, after a disciplinary committee decided not to impose a ban after his red card in Saturday's defeat to the Ospreys.

Leinster still have doubts over the fitness of Gordon D'Arcy but scrum-half Eoin Reddan is likely to be fit enough to take his place.

Rob Kearney is likely to be ruled out of Leinster's opening brace of Heineken Cup pool matches as he recovers from a back injury, but Declan Kidney's fears about his full-back's fitness ahead of the November internationals will be eased by news that Munster's Felix Jones could return within the next three weeks.

Former Munster star Barry Murphy reckons the province can overcome last weekend's defeat and can beat the hosts for the first time at the stadium since its redevelopment.

"They'll be going to win," he said. "There is very little between the teams. They are more than capable of it. It will be a close game.

"Up until last weekend, Munster had defended well and they will need to do that again."

Irish Independent

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