Sunday 22 September 2019

Johnny Sexton gets all-clear for Leinster's historic double tilt


Leinster's Jonathan Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's Jonathan Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile

David Kelly​

Jonathan Sexton is expected to be passed fit to lead all-conquering Leinster's assault on an historic trophy double when head coach Leo Cullen unveils his side for tomorrow's Aviva Stadium Guinness PRO14 decider against Scarlets.

Sexton has shrugged off a calf problem to take his place in a side which will also be boosted in their quest for an historic European and domestic double by the inclusions of Dan Leavy and the retiring Isa Nacewa.

Sexton struggled with a calf injury during the Champions Cup final win against Racing 92 which forced him to cede place-kicking duties to Nacewa in the second half and he subsequently sat out last weekend's semi-final win against Munster.

Leavy (hamstring) and Nacewa (calf) have shrugged off their knocks, while Scott Fardy is likely to get the nod once more in the back-row.

Over 40,000 tickets have been sold for the final and organisers have reiterated that there will be a strict 'no bags' policy enforced on the day.

Meanwhile, newly-installed Connacht coach Andy Friend has declared that he "can't wait to get started" after being handed a three-year deal in the wake of Kieran Keane's abrupt exit earlier this month.

The 49-year-old Australian, who had also interested Ulster, was recently head coach of his country's Sevens national side and has previously been head coach of Super Rugby outfit Brumbies, as well as head coach at English side Harlequins.

He was Eddie Jones' advisor during Australia's 2003 World Cup campaign and had coaching stints in Japan.

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IRFU performance director David Nucifora was a keen enthusiast for Friend's candidacy, having worked with him in Australia before.

​"I'm proud and honoured. An exciting young team and Connacht have genuine rugby folk. I can't wait to get started," said Friend.

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