Sunday 26 January 2020

Johnny Sexton eases fitness worries ahead of All Blacks showdown in Chicago

Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty against Cardiff
Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty against Cardiff
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Johnny Sexton has allayed concerns surrounding his fitness after he was replaced at half time in Leinster’s defeat to Montpellier on Sunday.

Stuart Lancaster yesterday confirmed that the Ireland out-half was fit enough to take a full part in Leinster training this week and despite the fact that he isn’t likely to play against Connacht on Saturday, he is confident that his hamstring complaint will not be an issue ahead of clash against New Zealand in Chicago.

Sexton tweaked his hamstring in training in the build up to Leinster’s Champions Cup opener against Castres and he insisted that it was merely being managed by Leo Cullen last weekend.

“Obviously the week before, I hurt my hamstring, very minor but in a place that it would be quite risky,” Sexton, who is an ambassador for Aer Lingus, said.

“Other guys have had trouble with it. I was in a race against time to get fit for the game. I had limited training time with the lads so then to get fit for the game was a bonus.

“I knew my time would be restricted and then Leo obviously made the call to do it at half time. I would have liked to have gone on further but I knew it wouldn’t be the full game anyway.

“The other guys who have had a little strain there before and a little bit of trouble, have made it a big problem. If you get a big problem up there, you’re looking at 16 weeks or more.

“It’s a case of just making sure it’s 100pc which it was and then just making sure that it was managed back into it.”

Despite Isa Nacewa saying on the Friday before the game that Sexton would be on place kicking duties, it was the Leinster skipper who was handed the responsibility despite the Ireland out-half taking shots at goal in the warm-up.

“I knew I wasn’t going to play a full game,” Sexton maintained. 

“I thought it would be 50 or 60 but then when the conditions were as they, they didn't want me to get cool and then warm it back up.

“But like I said, I was keen to get back out there but I knew I wasn’t going to play a full game so there is no point in me kicking for 50 minutes and ‘best of luck Isa’ for the rest of the game.

“As a kicker you obviously want those early kicks. That was it really, it was made around the team. I was kicking in the warm up as well because I was fit to kick.

“But it was just for Isa, for the team and thankfully it was the right decision because he had to nail some important kicks. That one right at the end, if he was taking that as his first kick, it would have been a more tricky kick.”

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