Tuesday 16 January 2018

Sexton back to boost Leinster for Ulster clash

Cullen ‘hopeful’ out-half can strengthen RDS options after return to training with province

The 31-year-old has taken time out to work on his troublesome hamstrings Photo: Sportsfile
The 31-year-old has taken time out to work on his troublesome hamstrings Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster are hopeful of having Johnny Sexton available for their New Year's meeting with Ulster after the Ireland out-half returned to training at UCD yesterday.

The 31-year-old has taken time out to work on his troublesome hamstrings since suffering two separate strains during October and November which disrupted his availability during the first half of the season.

He will continue to visit specialists at the Santry Sports Clinic this week to ensure he is ready to play again, but head coach Leo Cullen is optimistic he'll be fit to join a slew of returning internationals for the RDS clash.

"He trained today fully, Johnny. He looked pretty good out there," Cullen said yesterday.

"We're pretty hopeful he'll come through the week. He looked sharp out there today.

"We have to be constrained in what we can actually do, in terms of team training with a short turnaround, having played yesterday. But Johnny was full of life today. He is keen to get back involved as soon as possible.

"He is a nationally contracted player. We want to try and do what's best for Johnny.

But 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."

Cullen has conceded the IRFU rules around recruitment and retention of overseas players is a "grey area" as Munster prepare to announce Jaco Taute's contract extension.

"It's definitely a grey area," he stated. "Everything is on an individual case I guess, we've had some frustrations for sure but the question is probably being directed at the wrong person.

"We just have to get on with what we have to do ourselves, go about our business and not really worry a huge amount about some of the inconsistencies that are out there.

"That's just part and parcel of it."

Irish Independent

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