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The long-term hope that Leinster have for the retired Johnny Sexton

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster boss Leo Cullen has outlined his hope that the recently retired Johnny Sexton won’t be lost to the game. Having played for his province for the final time earlier in 2023, the 38-year-old Ireland skipper lined out in his last-ever match last month in his country’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss to New Zealand in Paris.

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Sexton was a guest of Leinster on Saturday night at their near sold-out URC derby versus Munster at the Aviva Stadium and writing in his programme notes ahead of the match, head coach Cullen paid tribute to his former teammate and star player.

“It is amazing to have the great Johnny Sexton and his family with us this evening,” Cullen began. “What a man and what a career.

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“It is hard to put into words the positive influence that Johnny has had on both Leinster and Ireland over the years. He has an inner drive that is incredibly rare and I have been lucky enough to have seen it up close, both as a teammate and coach for more than 15 years.

“We will miss Johnny greatly but we wish him only the very best for the future. The group have shared so many amazing memories along the way and we all hope that he and his family can look back with pride on their incredible journey together. In the meantime, I’m sure Laura, Luca, Sophie and Amy will be keeping him busy.

“Nobody knows what the future holds but I think we all hope that Johnny might have some role in the game as he has been such a brilliant rugby mind to go with that competitive gene. For now though, enjoy retirement. You deserve it.”

Cullen also paid tribute to the late Anthony Foley, the former Munster and Ireland No8 who passed away in 2016 in Paris when working with his province as their assistant coach. “Playing this fixture at the Aviva will always remind me of Anthony Foley.

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“We will never forget Axel or the contribution he made to Irish rugby, and our thoughts are regular with him and his family. We had so many great tussles over the years and we hope for lots more between two passionate teams and sets of supporters who have given so much to the game.”

  • Click here for all the RugbyPass stats from the Leinster vs Munster match
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