Tuesday 20 August 2019

'It'll be 23 of us against probably 40,000' - Johnny Sexton expecting to be vastly outnumbered in Glasgow

Jonathan Sexton during a Leinster press conference at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton during a Leinster press conference at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Andy Newport

Johnny Sexton has told Leinster to relish the challenge of beating Glasgow in their own back yard.

The Irish side expect their travelling supporters to be vastly outnumbered when they run out to take on the Warriors at Celtic Park on Saturday.

The venue for the Guinness PRO14 final is just seven miles from where Dave Rennie's team play their home games and the majority of the 43,000 tickets sold so far will be held by those cheering on Glasgow.

Sexton knows his team will have to do it the hard way if they are to retain the league title they won last year.

But the Ireland fly-half is determined to repay the fans who do travel across the Irish Sea with a vintage performance after their defeat to Saracens in the Heinken Champions Cup final in Newcastle a fortnight ago.

"We have to try and cherish that, don't we?" he said as he was asked about the difficulty of facing Warriors within their own city. "I think Saracens are a great example over the years of a team that have thrived in other teams' back gardens.

"We need to try and take a little bit of that into tomorrow.

"It'll be 23 of us against probably 40,000. I don't know how many Leinster fans will make it over having put their hands in their pockets to come to Newcastle.

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"We probably let them down there a little bit and want to repay them.

"It'll be a tough challenge for us, but one we're looking forward to."

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen stoked the tension ahead of the clash last week by calling on the Celtic faithful to turn their back on Glasgow and support his side when they run out at Parkhead.

Cullen suggested last week that the Hoops support should back his team because "Glasgow rugby players all support Rangers I've been told".

That earned him a rebuke from Lisbon Lion Jim Craig but at the final press conference ahead of Saturday's match, the Blues' boss started off by apologising.

"After the game last week, our semi-final, I made a comment that seemed to attract plenty of attention," he started.

"Just so that we're all aware, it was a throwaway remark, it was made in jest and I didn't mean to offend anyone. For any individuals that I did offend, I apologise to them."

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