Monday 23 April 2018

Leinster and IRFU prepared to pounce as Jonny Sexton weighs up Paris future

David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster have not given up hope of luring former favourite Jonathan Sexton home from Paris and discussions on the subject have intensified in recent days.

Ireland and Lions out-half Sexton, who joined Racing Metro last summer, is believed to be close to signalling his intention to take up the option of a third year at the Top 14 side, which would rule out a return home until 2016 at the earliest.

However, leading Leinster figures, led by chief executive Mick Dawson and coach Matt O'Connor, have combined with the IRFU for one final push to persuade Sexton to return to Leinster colours.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is not centrally involved in any talks but he is being fully briefed as he is keen for Sexton to fully commit himself to preparations for next September's World Cup.

The IRFU, who were subject to widespread criticism when Sexton opted to leave Leinster last year, are believed to be willing to release the necessary funds as several high-profile players, led by Brian O'Driscoll, have been removed from the pay-roll.

"We know that he's off contract," said Leinster coach Matt O'Connor yesterday. "Those conversations have been ongoing. He speaks regularly with a lot of the guys in our environment.

"We've still got good links with Johnny. We'd be very keen to have a conversation if he chooses to come back."

Dawson echoed O'Connor's comments, adding: "I don't think it's a secret that ourselves and the IRFU would love to have Johnny back. I also think it's not a secret that Johnny would like to come back as well. We just have to see over the next few weeks or months what way the ball bounces in whether he extends his contract there or not."

Sexton was in Dublin yesterday but remained coy on his future plans, albeit he confirmed that he had already made up his mind about where he will play next year. It remains to be seen where.

Irish Independent

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