Sport

Sunday 17 December 2017

Leinster coach Cullen unsure whether Johnny Sexton will be fit for Six Nations

Leinster's Jonny Sexton could be a doubt for the start of Ireland's RBS 6 Nations campaign
Leinster's Jonny Sexton could be a doubt for the start of Ireland's RBS 6 Nations campaign

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen refused to speculate on whether Johnny Sexton would be fit in time for the RBS 6 Nations after the Ireland fly-half limped off with a calf injury midway through the first half of the 24-24 Champions Cup draw in Castres.

Cullen admitted his side were "probably lucky to get a draw" after strengthening their hold on home advantage in the quarter-finals by winning Pool Four with a 23-point total.

Until their influential playmaker departed, the Guinness PRO12 side had enjoyed the best of the early exchanges on a near-freezing night at Stade Pierre Antoine, with Sexton opening the scoring before being substituted.

Cullen said: "We'll see how he (Sexton) is. It's very early days yet.

"He'll get a scan early next week - obviously he's got all next week and the week after before the Six Nations.

"Isa (Nacewa) went off as well in the first half. It's obviously not ideal losing two key guys in the opening 35 minutes but I thought the guys who came on did well."

Robbie Henshaw scored two tries and Dan Leavy also crossed for Leinster, with a David Smith double and Antoine Dupont registering for the hosts, who finished the game with a numerical advantage which they failed to make tell after Mike McCarthy was shown a yellow card.

Cullen added: "We were just hanging in there for the last six or seven minutes. I think the guys did well to hold out, as Castres were going for the win."

"It was a very strange game. I thought we started really well but Castres looked dangerous with the ball. They score a lot of points at home because they are very good and comfortable playing unstructured rugby - but maybe we were too passive in defence.

"After they got into the lead, we did well to fight back into the game. We had a lot of breaks, but we couldn't find that support player.

"It was very much a mixed bag."

Castres' Smith was pleased with his own two-try performance but admitted that the Top 14 outfit were disappointed not to bow out with a win.

"A draw is better than losing," he said. "The team played really well tonight, I thought. We didn't give away too many penalties. Last week, against Northampton, we were no good in the first half.

"We are now focusing on the Top 14 - and we'll hopefully finish in the top six and play again in the Champions Cup next year.

"I think it's really important for us to have had a good test against Leinster. Montpellier are coming here next week in the Top 14 and they will be out to win. We need to recover well from the match tonight and - come Monday - we'll be ready to start all over again."

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport