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Leinster facing out-half crisis with Sexton and Byrne both doubts for Toulon

By Ciarán Kennedy

Trending on RugbyPass

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Leinster could be facing an injury crisis at out-half for their Champions Cup round-of-16 game against Toulon on Friday. Following Saturday’s Pro14 final win over Munster, head coach Leo Cullen is awaiting updates on the fitness of his two senior 10s, Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne, who are both doubts for the game.

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Byrne, who started the Pro14 decider ahead of Ireland captain Sexton, was replaced in the second half after struggling with a leg injury. Sexton only lasted five minutes before being removed for a HIA.

At that point, Byrne returned to the action, still limping, and managed to kick a crucial penalty to put the game beyond Munster’s reach.

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And Cullen could now be forced to plan without both of his senior 10s for Friday’s game at the RDS.

Sexton is currently going through the graduated return to play protocols and will be assessed as the week progresses. Any setback with the protocols will see him miss the game. The out-half also suffered a head injury during Ireland’s Six Nations campaign and had to sit out the round two defeat to France as a result.

Byrne, meanwhile, will require assessment on the knee injury he sustained against Munster.

Should both players be unavailable for selection, Cullen will likely hand a first European start to Byrne’s highly-rated younger brother, Harry. The 21-year-old had been due to start the Champions Cup home game against Northampton Saints in December but pulled out moments before kick-off after suffering a back issue in the warm-up.

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Alternatively, Cullen could turn to 23-year-old Ciarán Frawley. Frawley came through the Leinster Academy system as an out-half and has played most of his 34 senior games for the province in the position, however he has been almost exclusively used at centre this season.

Leinster will also be without the services of Ireland internationals Garry Ringrose, James Ryan and Will Connors, who all sat out Saturday’s Pro14 final win.

Flanker Scott Penny will also miss out due to a hand injury.

In better news for Leinster, Cian Kelleher is due to return to training this week having recovered from a hamstring injury.

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Vakh Abdaladze will seek to increase his involvement in training this week as he continues to recover from a back injury, while there was no update available on Jimmy O’Brien (hamstring), Rowan Osborne (hand), Tommy O’Brien (ankle), Adam Byrne (quad), Caelan Doris (concussion), Dan Leavy (knee), Conor O’Brien (knee) or Max Deegan (knee).

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Leinster facing out-half crisis with Sexton and Byrne both doubts for Toulon

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