Leinster are confident that they can cope without Johnny Sexton

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Leinster reckon they can cope without Johnny Sexton in the coming weeks as they await news of scans on his injured groin.

The Ireland captain is set for a spell on the sidelines after suffering the injury trying to stop Jamie George scoring in Saturday’s Grand Slam finale.

He is one of a number of Ireland stars who could miss the province’s Heineken Champions Cup clash with Ulster next week, with Caelan Doris, Hugo Keenan and Garry Ringrose all following the concussion return to play protocols with Jamie Osborne and Joe McCarthy also out.

Harry Byrne is likely to lead the backline in Leinster’s top-of-the-table clash with Stormers on Friday with Ciarán Frawley expected to be involved, while Ross Byrne will be back next week after featuring in all five of Ireland’s Six Nations games.

Assistant coach Andrew Goodman reckons there’s adequate cover for Sexton.

“It was sad to see him go off as he did,” the Kiwi said.

“With the campaign he’s led with those Irish guys, to be captain and finish the Six Nations like that was an amazing experience for him and to lift the trophy was an amazing way to finish that part of his career.

“We’ll see how the scans come back. Ross has done a great job for us earlier this year. We’ve got Harry back now, he’s had a string of games together and he’s getting better. Frawls is back in the mix after his first game and the young boys, Charlie (Tector) and Sam (Prendergast), are both there.

“Five pretty good options, all pretty capable of playing good rugby.”

Goodman was impressed with how Prendergast and the Ireland U-20s performed in winning their Grand Slam and says he can see a pathway to the first team for the young players who starred in that campaign.

“It’s a credit to all the provinces in the Irish system, with regard to what they’re doing at schools level first and foremost. You have to have a strong schools section and the academies for this to happen,” he said of the unprecedented success.

“It was awesome watching that U-20s game, there’s some great talent there.

“You mention Sam, but (scrum-half) Fintan Gunne played well yesterday and I’m excited to get to work with some of these backs, (centre) Hugh Cooney and some of these guys coming through.

“I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some of them when they’ve a break in a couple of weeks when they’re training with us.

“There’s definitely a path now coming back into this area of the season. With the knockout games maybe not so much but the experience they’ll get from training in a week leading up to a knockout game, the intensity of those trainings on the Tuesdays and Thursdays – they’ll get a lot of growth out of that.

“It’ll be huge for them to go about their work to get themselves in a position to perform.

“The World Cup at the end of the year, those boys coming back from the World Cup won’t be available to us so there will be opportunities at the start of the campaign.”

Munster, meanwhile, welcome back Tom Ahern and Mike Haley this week as they face a pivotal URC battle against Glasgow, while academy lock Edwin Edogbo is another who is back fit.

Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray are given the week off before the province travel to South Africa to face the Sharks in the Champions Cup next week, but the rest of their internationals like Jack Crowley will come into contention.