Sunday 25 February 2018

Ireland call on Racing Metro to give Johnny Sexton a break

Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton
Conor George

Conor George

IRELAND have appealed to Racing Metro to rest Johnny Sexton this weekend in preparation for Ireland's November Tests.

The former Leinster out-half joined up with the Ireland squad yesterday, but the French club can still recall him for their Top 14 showdown with Biarritz on Saturday. Ireland team manager Mick Kearney is hopeful that the playmaker will be afforded a rare weekend off.

"We will find out on Tuesday (today) if Racing are recalling Jonathan for the weekend, as they are entitled to do," he said.

"It is out of our control and out of Jonathan's. He has a massive number of minutes under his belt at this stage, so we're just hoping he is given the weekend off."

Sexton has it stipulated in his contract that he is free to attend Ireland's training camps, but there is no clause governing his release from Racing matches in the lead-up to international weekends.

Sexton joined up with Racing just three weeks after playing a leading role in the Lions' third Test victory over Australia. Inside two weeks he had played for his new club in a pre-season friendly against Harlequins.

He made his Top 14 debut a week later against Brive and since then has played in all of Racing's competitive games – starting all but two of them. His heavy schedule has taken a toll on him, according to Kearney – "he has dropped a few kilos" – but is hugely enthusiastic ahead of the start of the November Internationals.

He is unlikely to be risked in the opener against Samoa, but Kearney refused to rule him out as he hopes he is rested this weekend.

The Ireland team manager revealed they are sweating over a long list of injuries, but confirmed that Brian O'Driscoll is on course to be available to face Samoa on Saturday week.

The centre has fully recovered from the calf injury that ruled him out of Leinster's opening two Heineken Cup games and, if he comes through training this week, he will be rested at the weekend in anticipation of the Samoa game.

"There are no plans for Brian to play for Leinster this weekend. That might change, but if he comes through the week's training, the plan is for him to rest," said Kearney.

Irish Independent

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