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Ireland's Johnny Sexton out until tail end of season

By Ian Cameron
Ireland v England – Guinness Six Nations – Aviva Stadium

Leinster have been dealt a major blow as Johnny Sexton is unlikely to play again until the tail end of the season at the earliest due to a groin injury – RugbyPass understands.

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The Ireland fly-half underwent a scan at the start of the week and the prognosis means he faces a race against time to feature for the province in the final stages of the URC and the Heineken Champions Cup.

This means he will miss Leinster’s top of the table clash against the DHL Stormers on Friday night, which is expected to be a tough encounter.

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Johnny Sexton and the Mt Rushmore of No 10s

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Johnny Sexton and the Mt Rushmore of No 10s

Sexton sustained the injury during Ireland’s Grand Slam win over England, and given the proximity of the World Cup, Ireland and Leinster will not take any chances with the veteran fly-half. Despite the absence of Sexton, Leinster’s assistant coach Andrew Goodman believes there will be adequate cover for the Ireland pivot, with Harry Byrne likely to take his place.

The United Rugby Championship log leaders will also miss the services of Caelan Doris, Hugo Keenan, and Garry Ringrose, who are all following return-to-play protocols for concussion and could miss the game as well. Jamie Osborne, who injured his knee against Edinburgh, and Ronan Kelleher, who sustained a shoulder injury while playing for Ireland against Scotland, are also out.

In any event, the bulk of the Irish players who celebrated the Six Nations title are likely to be given the weekend off against the Stormers.

All Black Charlie Ngatai, Cormac Foley, and Martin Moloney are also among the other players who will miss the game due to injuries. However, Leinster has enough confidence in the depth of their squad not to be concerned, despite the Stormers hoping to face the best Leinster side.

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“It was sad to see him go off as he did,” Goodman said. “With the campaign he’s led with those Irish guys, to be captain and finish the Six Nations like that was an amazing experience for him and to lift the trophy was an amazing way to finish that part of his career.

“We’ll see how the scans come back. Ross (Byrne) has done a great job for us earlier this year. We’ve got Harry back now, he’s had a string of games together and he’s getting better. Frawls is back in the mix after his first game and the young boys, Charlie (Tector) and Sam (Prendergast), are both there. Five pretty good options, all pretty capable of playing good rugby.”

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