Ireland: Johnny Sexton confirms return date but concedes ‘gutting’ reality
Johnny Sexton has provided a latest update on his return from a groin injury, with the fly-half hoping to be fit for the start of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup training camp.
The playmaker suffered the issue during his country’s 29-16 Six Nations Grand Slam triumph over England in March.
It was confirmed afterwards that he would require surgery and would ‘likely’ miss the rest of the season.
Played his last game for Leinster
There was a slim chance of him making the United Rugby Championship final should Leinster get there, but Sexton has now confirmed that his provincial career is over.
Instead, the pivot is targeting a mid-June return which is when the Irish squad assemble to begin their preparations for the World Cup in France.
“We come back on June 19, so that’s my goal, to be back fully with the squad, get rid of the physios and just have pre-season with the rest of them,” he told the Irish Independent.
“I spoke to Josh (van der Flier) at the time of the injury, about how long it took to get back because he was the one guy who’d a similar injury. He got back in like record time, in nine or 10 weeks and so I was like, ‘Here we go, maybe the URC final if we got there’.
“But no, the surgeon says age matters, apparently, and the fact that I’m a kicker as well so I need to sort of special attention to the load that I’m put through and how I build up gradually through the gears with that. So it’s slightly different, and it’s June 19.”
While the positive for Sexton is that he will be back fit for the global tournament, it means that he will not be able to take part in Leinster’s end of season run-in.
“It’s gutting, isn’t it?” he said.
“That was why when I was coming off injured against England, I immediately went to, ‘How long till I get back because it means a lot to play for Leinster?’
“Some other countries, it’s country first, province second, but with all the players in Ireland, of course Ireland is the pinnacle but it’s not like a big step down to play for our province, it means a lot to us.
“So very tough to miss them, but that’s life, I’ve never missed a final with Leinster before, so it’s something new, but I’ll be wishing the lads well, they’re great friends of mine so hoping they do the business and bringing home five stars would be very special.
“I don’t think I feel a part of it massively but it will still mean a lot to retire from the club having as many stars as any other club.”
Gaining revenge against La Rochelle
The Irish province showed their class in defeating Toulouse in their Champions Cup semi-final, setting up an encounter with La Rochelle in the showpiece event.
It is a repeat of last year’s final, which the Frenchmen won 24-21, and Sexton is hoping his team-mates can get the job done this time around.
“The toughest game is to come, like any Champions Cup the toughest game you play in is the final for many different reasons – pressure, expectation, all these things, and it comes down to one day,” he said.
“We’ve been on the wrong side of it the last couple of times, before that we won four European Cups and a Challenge Cup in a row, we never lost one, and now we’ve lost the last two.
“So hopefully, the lads will have learned from the last one and will go out and do the business.”
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The article Ireland: Johnny Sexton confirms return date but concedes ‘gutting’ reality appeared first on Planetrugby.com.