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'The break will have done wonders for guys. I can see Johnny playing until he's 42 if he wanted'


Isa Nacewa. Photo: Sportsfile

Isa Nacewa. Photo: Sportsfile

Isa Nacewa. Photo: Sportsfile

Former Leinster captain Isa Nacewa believes Johnny Sexton can extend his career into his 40s on the back of rugby's enforced lockdown.

Nacewa experienced the benefits of a break from the game in between his two hugely successful spells with Leinster, and he is adamant that Sexton can use the down-time to prolong his playing days.

Ahead of Saturday's planned return to action, Sexton (35) is available for the mouth-watering clash against Munster. The Leinster and Ireland skipper has his sights on being selected for next summer's Lions tour and has made no secret of his desire to play into his 40s.

"I think it will have done wonders for guys in the latter stages of their career," Nacewa said.

"Guys get sabbaticals written into their contracts, some of the 'big dogs', to manage the body over a four-year World Cup period.

"One hundred and seventy-five days away from the game, you'd be able to get over any niggles. There'd still be enough time there to get gains physically and mentally. It was the perfect time to refresh.

"I can see Johnny playing until he's 42 if he wanted. That's the seriousness of how long a break like this will have done. I've spoken to players all over the world during this time. A lot have said to me, 'I can get another year out of this'. That's the way they've been thinking."

Meanwhile, Munster have received a major boost ahead of this weekend’s action after the province confirmed that all test results among close contacts following last week’s positive Covid-19 case have been negative.

Johann van Graan and his squad returned to their high-performance base yesterday, and underwent the third phase of the IRFU’s testing programme.

Fears had grown that the coronavirus may have spread within the group after an academy player, who was part of the wider training group, tested positive last week.

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Munster took the decision to cancel training on Thursday and Friday last week before they returned to their Limerick base yesterday.

The results of the latest round of tests will be released publicly later this week, but Munster have confirmed that the six players who were forced to self-isolate having been deemed to be close contacts have tested negative.

The academy player who tested positive is now asymptomatic and is continuing to be monitored. He will follow a graduated return to rugby once the isolation period is complete.

The other six players, including one senior figure in Van Graan’s squad, are all also asymptomatic and continue to follow the self-isolating guidelines before they are allowed to return to training at a later date.

Across the water, London Irish have signed England sevens leading try-scorer Dan Norton.

The 32-year-old previously played for Gloucester before his sevens career, during which he has scored more than 350 tries.

The versatile back becomes the second England sevens player to join Declan Kidney’s crew in recent weeks after Charlton Kerr agreed a deal last month.

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