Johnny Sexton’s Leinster career almost certainly over as he undergoes operation on injured groin

Leinster's Jonathan Sexton in action against Connacht on New Year's Day. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Johnny Sexton is unlikely to play for Leinster again after the province confirmed that he will have an operation on the groin injury he suffered against England.

The Ireland captain is expected to retire after this year's World Cup in France and, barring a quicker than expected recovery, the New Year's Day win over Connacht was his last involvement for his beloved province.

Leinster say Sexton will see a specialist tomorrow to have a procedure and that it will "likely keep him sidelined for the remainder of the Leinster Rugby season".

Sexton will go down as one of the province's all-time great players, having been the starting No 10 in all four of their Heineken Champions Cup final successes in 2009, '11, '12 and '18.

He spent two seasons at Racing 92 in Paris between 2013 and 2015, but the St Mary's man returned home to be a driving force in getting his home team back to the top of the European game.

He has played 189 times for the province since making his debut against the Border Reivers in 2008, scoring 1,646 points.

In his absence, Ross Byrne will be charged with leading the team to a fifth European title, starting with Saturday's last 16 meeting with Ulster.

Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan and Caelan Doris are all doubts for that game as they follow the head injury protocols.

As well as Sexton, Leinster will be without Jamie Osborne, Rónan Kelleher, Joe McCarthy and Charlie Ngatai who remain on the long-term injury list.