Tuesday 22 October 2019

'Sexton was not dropped' - Contepomi echoes Leinster coach Cullen's comments in aftermath of Munster clash

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, left, insists Jonathan Sexton was not dropped for last Saturday's clash with Munster
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, left, insists Jonathan Sexton was not dropped for last Saturday's clash with Munster
Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Felipe Contepomi says Johnny Sexton wasn't dropped for Leinster's semi-final win over Munster as he praises the captain's attitude

Felipe Contepomi has reiterated Leo Cullen’s assertion that Johnny Sexton was not dropped for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 semi-final against Munster.

Ross Byrne was picked to start at out-half at the RDS, with captain Sexton named on the bench. Coach Cullen said he had been able to take a full part in training ahead of the game and he was introduced as a second-half substitute.

In the aftermath, Cullen hit out at what he described as "nasty" headlines surrounding the selection decision as he named Scott Fardy on the bench and left Seán O’Brien and Rob Kearney out entirely after they took a limited part in training.

And Contepomi was emphatic that decision to name Sexton on the bench was related to the effect the defeat to Saracens had on the out-half.

"This has to be clear, Johnny was not dropped,” the former out-half said when asked to clarify Leinster’s position.

"If that's the way people want to see it or say it, that's a perception or something that someone says from outside.

"We, and when I say we, it's not only the staff but the players as we all want the best for Leinster, and Johnny demonstrated how great a team player and leader he is because he is the captain of the team.

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"Coming back from a very bruised 80 minutes in the Champions Cup and before (that) he was injured.

"We thought and everyone agreed that maybe the best thing for him was to come off the bench and be fresh or as fresh as possible.

"He showed, his show and go and break, and I think sometimes... I'm not saying journalists but you want to have a headline of 'Jonathan Sexton dropped'.

"We don't drop him, we all agree and are in the same boat and Johnny is one of them.

"He showed it, his attitude was fantastic throughout the week. His input for the team, for Ross, and his mindset to come in and do the best for the team. That's what he does."

Meanwhile, Devin Toner will miss Saturday's final but Contepomi said Leinster are upbeat on his prospects of recovering in time for the World Cup warm-ups.

"He is still going under some studies (medical examination) but he's definitely ruled out for this week.

"We'd like to think it's not a long-term injury but we still don't have all the tests. He's going through MRIs and those things.

"I haven't spoken directly to Dev about his World Cup prospects but I'm telling you, we hope it's not a long-term injury so hopefully, he'll be fine for the World Cup. It's still three months to go for kick-off."

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