Ireland star still aiming for World Cup
NEWS: The final verdict is in: Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton will not take part in Leinster’s remaining fixtures this season after limping off with a groin injury sustained during the Six Nations.
The 37-year-old underwent groin surgery in late March following Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations win over England. Sexton, one of the most iconic Irish players ever, indicated his intention to quit following this autumn’s RWC in France last year but declined to detail what exactly the next step would be.
Fans had been led to believe that there may be some hope that he would recover in time to play in the end-of-season fixtures, but those hopes were dashed after an interview he gave to the Sunday Times. In the interview, he spoke candidly about his injury and revealed that he will now be focusing on returning to full fitness for the Rugby World Cup warm-ups this summer.
“It’s a bit upsetting to miss out with Leinster,” Sexton told the Sunday Times. “People say, ‘you’ve still got the World Cup’ and that’s true, please God.
“What I wanted to get across was that in a sense, playing for Leinster meant as much as playing for Ireland, or almost as much.”
The news will come as a blow to Leinster fans who have watched Sexton play a pivotal role in the team’s success over the past decade. Sexton has been a totemic figure in the Leinster set-up since making his debut in 2006, helping the team to win numerous domestic and European titles in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018.
Sexton’s impromptu retirement for Leinster marks the end of an era for the province, and his absence will be sorely felt both on and off the field. However, the flyhalf will undoubtedly continue to be an influential figure in Irish rugby for the next six months at the very least.
The news has a significant silver lining for Ireland fans, as Sexton’s provincial departure means Ross Byrne – who many see as Ireland’s immediate future at 10 – will be getting more invaluable game-time at the business end of the season.
In an injury update on Monday Leinster confirmed that Caelan Doris and Garry Ringrose are both available for selection for their upcoming United Rugby Championship game against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Meanwhile Ryan Bair, who injured his shoulder in the first half against Leicester Tigers, and James Lowe (injured calf) have both been ruled out for the next few weeks.