United Rugby Championship: Leinster assistant coach Robin McBryde expects players to ‘step up’ in Johnny Sexton’s absence

URC: Jonathan Sexton captains Leinster, Ulster welcome Jacob Stockdale and Robert Balcoune back, Liam Williams returns for Cardiff Credit: Alamy
URC: Jonathan Sexton captains Leinster, Ulster welcome Jacob Stockdale and Robert Balcoune back, Liam Williams returns for Cardiff Credit: Alamy

Leinster assistant coach Robin McBryde admits the players need to “step up” in the absence of veteran skipper Johnny Sexton.

Sexton suffered a facial injury in the Dublin side’s 41-12 win over Connacht on Sunday and is a doubt for the Six Nations next month.

Procedure completed

McBryde revealed that the Ireland captain has had a procedure but did not give further details of the injury or recovery period.

“He has had a procedure, I can’t tell you what that procedure was, but he has had it on his cheekbone. I don’t know when he will be back fit or anything, but it’s done, and it’s over to the medical team now to try to put a timescale on it,” McBryde said at a Leinster media briefing.

“As with any injury to any player, you feel it for the player involved, but it’s the nature of the sport. These things happen, but the flip side of that is someone else has been given the opportunity to step in and take that role. We are blessed to have plenty of cover in that area so it’s an opportunity for those players to step up and make the most of it.

“A player like Johnny commands respect, and it goes without saying how successful he has been and he’s a leader through and through. A winner through and through. It’s an opportunity for someone to step up into that void now.”

Sexton is a key part of the Leinster squad, and his experience makes him a valuable leader in the group. However, McBryde wants other players to fill the void left by the fly-half and “step up” while he is sidelined.

“Because of Johnny’s nature, he’s a winner and very vocal. It will put a little bit more pressure on other people to step up and take over the leadership role. It’s more of a shared workload, I don’t mean that in a bad way. We just need to step up,” he added.

“What’s happened has happened; we just need to move on now. You have to be that ruthless. You can’t dwell on anything, you have to say ‘right’ and move on.”

Tricky Ospreys challenge

Leinster face Ospreys this weekend, and McBryde believes, despite the odds in his team’s favour, that it will be a tricky challenge as the Welsh team have found their stride of late.

“They’ve turned a corner, haven’t they? They’re very good set-piece-wise. I think their scrum is a very big weapon for them. They’re very big; they’re very physical as well. They’ve had some great wins recently. Montpellier on the road [in the Champions Cup],” he said.

“The two Welsh derbies, they’re always nip and tuck anyway, but to win away at the Blues [was impressive]. The Blues have shown a bit of form recently as well. To come away from there with a victory was great. They’ll be buoyed by all those results. They’re going to be a big test for us on the weekend.”

READ MORE: United Rugby Championship: Ulster boss Dan McFarland has belief his side will return to form

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