Saturday 29 August 2015

Sexton to return to Leinster with four-year contract

Published 25/08/2014 | 02:30

JONATHAN SEXTON will be a Leinster player again next season.

The Irish Independent understands that the Lions fly-half has reached an agreement with the IRFU and the province on a four-year contract from the start of the 2015/16 campaign.

The deal to bring the Lions fly-half home is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Sexton has opted to return despite Racing's eagerness to retain his services and interest from Toulon who were willing to pay up to €900,000 per-annum for a long-term replacement for Jonny Wilkinson.

However, the union and Leinster have landed their man for the long-term after handing the 29-year-old a new contract that will keep him in Ireland until 2019. He will become an IRFU employee once again at the end of Racing's season, which could stretch to mid-June, meaning Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will have full access to his playmaker when preparations begin for next year's World Cup to be held in England and Wales.

According to sources, the deal has been reached as a result of direct talks between Sexton, IRFU chief executive Philip Browne and his Leinster counterpart Mick Dawson.

The transfer represents a huge coup for both the province and the national team. Leinster will welcome their local hero back with open arms, while Schmidt will relish the opportunity to have full access to such an important player as well as the ability to rest him when needed.

Sexton moved to Paris last summer after contract negotiations with the union broke down. He signed a two-year deal with Racing with an option to continue until 2016. Although they endured a difficult start and crashed out of Europe at the pool stages, the out-half helped turn things around and Racing reached the Top 14 semi-finals.

While the relentless schedule of French rugby took its toll on Sexton's body early on in the season, his importance to Ireland was underlined when he inspired Schmidt's side to Six Nations glory in Paris in March, the fifth piece of silverware the pair have won together since the New Zealander arrived at Leinster in 2011.

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