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Sexton not certain to return for Leinster against Ulster


Leinster’s Johnny Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile

There could still be a slight twist left in the Jonathan Sexton saga. Ireland's most prized possession was heading for a return to play against Ulster on New Year's Eve, according to Leinster coach Leo Cullen on Monday.

"We're pretty hopeful he'll come through the week.

"He looked sharp out there," Cullen said, at the weekly media briefing.

"He's dying to get back involved now at this stage because it has been a frustrating period for him being on the sideline watching his team-mates playing in Europe and on the weekend as well."

True to form, Sexton is eager to get back to doing what he does best.

He has matured enough to know that he has to leave decisions about his body up to others more qualified.

It is believed the IRFU's medical team are not in full agreement over when best to reintroduce Sexton.

This may have been clarified after Leinster's positivity about being "very hopeful" their out-half will return on Saturday.

He has completed his five-week course of strength and conditioning on schedule and has ticked all the boxes.

This should be enough to guarantee his return to action for Leinster.

Apparently, it isn't as the IRFU look for the grace of another week just 'to be sure, to be sure'.

It is most unfortunate that the IRFU's Performance Director David Nucifora has flown south for the winter.

His time away coincides with the argument over whether Munster have been, or should be, able to extend Jaco Taute's contract to the end of the season.

It is not comparing like-with-like to put the high-profile cases of Ruan Pienaar and Taute into the same court of public opinion.

The Ulster scrum-half has been the bedrock of the northern province's game for the last seven seasons.

He will probably put his skills to the test again against Leinster.

It is still uncertain whether he will be up against Sexton or Ross Byrne.