Tuesday 12 December 2017

Jamie Heaslip fired up by prospect of bringing Jonny Sexton home

Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Sexton
Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Sexton
David Kelly

David Kelly

LEINSTER coach Matt O’Connor has said that there would be no question of Jonathan Sexton returning to the club if there were a bidding war for his services.

Although O’Connor and captain Jamie Heaslip were at pains to point out that talk of a four-year deal for the Irish out-half was premature, they each hailed the prospective return of the 29-year-old.

“He’s got a very significant decision to make in the next couple of weeks,” said O’Connor of the player’s imminent announcement, as revealed in the Irish Independent last Monday.

“All things being equal, if that was to return home, it’s a great statement about the league, it’s a great statement about Irish rugby and it speaks volumes about Leinster in particular, in that he wants to be a part of that environment.

If that happens, fingers crossed, it’s a huge statement.

“He knows, we know, there’s a lot of people in the market for him and if it ends up as a bidding war, well then, we’re not going to come first.

“But there’s other things that go into the melting pot for that decision and on most of the environmental things we’d like to think that we’d come out on top.”

Heaslip referenced these close links with Leinster which have veered Sexton towards rejecting a deal to remain in France that may have cost him over €1m in salary payments.

“Playing with Johnny before he left was great,” said the Leinster captain. “I’ve played with Johnny for four or five years before he left, with the club.

“Anyone who has played with Johnny would love to have him on their side so from my own point of view and probably for a lot of the lads in the changing room, they’d love to play with Johnny.

“He’s been in the culture, he knows what it’s all about. He knows all the lads, half of them are his really good mates and he’s grown up playing with them. So he knows what’s there and it’s very much up to Johnny in terms of what’s going on in his life and what he needs.

“His situation is different from anyone else’s and I’m sure whatever decision he goes with will be the right one and the best one for him.”

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