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PRO 14    

Leinster challenge headlines over Sexton

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PRO 14    

'This has to be clear, Johnny (Sexton) was not dropped'

PRO14 finalists Leinster have criticised media who reported that Johnny Sexton had been “dropped” for their league semi-final win over Munster last Saturday.

The Irish club created inflammatory headlines of their own at the weekend. Coach Leo Cullen’s audaciously claimed that all Glasgow Warriors fans are Rangers football supporters and Celtic fans should support Leinster in next Saturday’s Celtic Park decider.

Cullen’s call was made all the stranger by the fact that Celtic are playing in the Scottish Cup football final next Saturday and will be busy elsewhere away from the rugby decider.

Despite this gaffe of their own making, Cullen took umbrage with reports regarding Sexton being replaced in the No10 shirt by Ross Byrne which ignored how Leinster were merely rotating their squad a week after their Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens, not unceremoniously dropping the axe on their star out-half.

Cullen’s initially let fly in the aftermath of the semi-final and the matter was followed up by assistant coach Felipe Contepomi when he addressed media ahead the final versus the Warriors.

“This has to be clear, Johnny was not dropped,” insisted the former out-half, whose injury in the 2009 European Cup semi-final effectively marked Sexton’s arrival as a name to watch as he went on to impress that day at Croke Park. “If that’s the way people want to see it or say it, that’s a perception or something that someone says from outside.

“We, and when I say we, it’s not only the staff but the players as we all want the best for Leinster, and Johnny demonstrated how great a team player and leader he is because he is the captain of the team.

“Coming back from a very bruised 80 minutes in the Champions Cup and before (that) he was injured.
“We thought and everyone agreed that maybe the best thing for him was to come off the bench and be fresh or as fresh as possible.

“He showed, his show and go and break, and I think sometimes… I’m not saying journalists but you want to have a headline of ‘Jonathan Sexton dropped’. We don’t drop him, we all agree and are in the same boat and Johnny is one of them.

“He showed it, his attitude was fantastic throughout the week. His input for the team, for Ross, and his mindset to come in and do the best for the team. That’s what he does.”

WATCH: Leo Cullen’s post-match interview following last Saturday’s win over Munster

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'This has to be clear, Johnny (Sexton) was not dropped'