Belfast Telegraph

Sexton injury leaves Ireland and Leinster in the lurch

Northampton 16 Leinster 43

Waiting game: Northampton’s Matt Proctor clashes with Leinster star Johnny Sexton
Waiting game: Northampton’s Matt Proctor clashes with Leinster star Johnny Sexton

By Cian Treacy

Leinster will today provide an update on the state of Johnny Sexton's knee after their captain was forced off in real discomfort early in the second-half of Saturday's 43-16 win over Northampton Saints.

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The out-half was set to go for scans on the joint yesterday amid fears he could be out for a number of weeks and that his availability for the Six Nations kick-off on February 1 may be in doubt.

Certainly, he looks set to be unavailable for Saturday's return fixture against Northampton at the Aviva Stadium, while James Ryan is also a major doubt after coming off with a head injury.

Losing Sexton is a scenario the Blues have become used to over the last few years and Ross Byrne demonstrated his capacity to lead the backline when coming on at Franklin's Gardens.

His place on the bench will be taken by Ciaran Frawley or his brother Harry, who was pulled from Lansdowne's starting XV at the eleventh hour on Saturday.

"We'll wait and see how Johnny is, but Ross has done it many a time and when he came on today he looked sharp, so there's plenty of guys playing really well who weren't playing today," said Rhys Ruddock, who will lead the team in Sexton's absence.

"Hopefully Johnny's all good, we'll wait and see."

New Ireland coach Andy Farrell will be interested in the results of Sexton's scans as he prepares to host his first team get-together in the days before Christmas.

Already sweating on the availability of Joey Carbery, who hasn't played since the World Cup due to the ankle injury he suffered in Japan, Farrell could do without an out-half injury crisis before kicking off his first tournament in charge.

Farrell is weighing up the options available to captain the side and Sexton is the bookies' favourite in a race that also includes James Ryan and Peter O'Mahony. His loss as a leader would be a real blow to the team's ambitions.

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