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Victory will be much sweeter for Sexton this time

Jonathan Sexton leans against the wall of a deserted RDS. A penny for his thoughts? Luckily, we can get them for nothing.

His past informs the present.

During Leinster's 2009 Heineken Cup win, the Irish out-half had spent much of it on the outside of the tent looking on as Leinster clambered hesitantly towards the semi-final.

As Michael Cheika pulled the flaps behind him, Sexton decided about pitching up elsewhere. France. England. Anywhere but unwanted, unloved, here.

He had started the season all a flurry as Felipe Contepomi purred and Isa Nacewa was being squeezed into the out-half berth (imagine!); when Cheika dragged in fans' favourite David Holwell from a farm half-way around the world, Sexton decided to call time.

But something made him pause. Well, someone actually. Declan Kidney included him in a Six Nations squad. Then Sexton played against Scotland 'A' and, a few yards from where he stands now, that game resuscitated his confidence.

Leinster benefited even more. When Contepomi crumbled on the Croke Park turf against Munster in that epic clash, Sexton jaunted on and steered his side home. In the Murrayfield final, he played a veteran's role.

The gusting wind now speeding through the archaic structures of the RDS are freighted with those memories.

"From a personal point of view, I suppose the last time I was just really thrown in there," he said.

"I'd only really played probably a couple of halves in the pool stages, I was on the bench normally. This year, I've played every game. It would mean more to me this year to win it after playing all of the games and feeling more a part of it.

"Two years ago, yeah, Felipe got injured and I played the final. I sort of felt that year it was a case of trying not to let the team down. This year, I suppose it would be more experienced group of players we have and I've been a part of that.

"I suppose it was a big moment in my career. It could have gone either way, but at the same time I went into the game having nothing to lose from a personal point of view. It was all about doing what was right for the team on the day and getting the win for the first Heineken Cup."

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