Monday 17 December 2018

Johnny Sexton could sit out Munster clash as Leinster rest key players

Six-day turnaround before Euro opener means Cullen will rotate squad for derby

Johnny Sexton will sit out Leinster’s clash with Munster on Saturday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Johnny Sexton will sit out Leinster’s clash with Munster on Saturday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Johnny Sexton could sit out Leinster's clash with Munster on Saturday as the province manage the six-day lead-in to their European opener against Wasps.

Having started their last three games, it appears increasingly likely that the captain will be among the players rested for the derby.

The European champions take on Wasps on Friday week and although they have already sold 44,000 tickets for this weekend's game, the Heineken Champions Cup is their top priority.

Ross Byrne will come into the team if Sexton sits the game out. He started the Guinness PRO14 semi-final win over Munster last May.

Cullen can call upon Dan Leavy and James Ryan who have cleared their concussion protocols, while Jack McGrath is also in contention.

Stuart Lancaster conceded that the province would be taking the coming schedule into account.

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"Yeah, certainly the challenge that we have that others don't is that we play Friday night," the coach said when asked if Sexton could be rested.

"That does have an effect. We'll certainly have to manage the squad but I don't want anyone to think we're not taking the game seriously because it's entirely the opposite.

"A pretty strong Leinster side will be put out and I imagine a pretty strong Munster team, but I'd imagine both teams will have an eye on how many games they play this time of year with Europe coming around the corner"

Munster coach Johann van Graan confirmed all 23 players who beat Ulster are available. Mike Haley (hamstring) is a doubt, while John Ryan (ankle) and James Hart (knee) are out, as is Tyler Bleyendaal (neck), who could return in two weeks..

Irish Independent

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