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Jimmy Gopperth nears Leinster exit and Premiership rugby return

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Jimmy Gopperth will leave Leinster and return to the English Premiership at the end of this season, with Wasps his likely destination. The writing has been on the wall for the New Zealander ever since JohnnySexton's return was confirmed, as Ian Madigan has another year to run on his contract.

Gopperth's form has dipped since news that the Ireland fly-half was on his way back to Dublin, but there were signs of improvement in Sunday's European Champions Cup defeat to Harlequins.

Identified as Sexton's replacement by Joe Schmidt, the 31-year-old has largely been Matt O'Connor's first choice No 10 ahead of Madigan since joining in 2013 and produced some big displays last season.

However, he has failed to hit the same heights this year, with Madigan playing alongside him and assuming the kicking duties.

The former Newcastle Falcon has been identified by Wasps as a potential replacement for former England out-half Andy Goode and the Coventry bound club are understood to be confident of landing the Kiwi.

Dai Young's team are third in Leinster's European pool and could leapfrog the three-time European champions if they do the double over Castres and O'Connor's side fail to beat Harlequins on Saturday.

Leinster are expected to provide an update on Gordon D'Arcy's calf strain today as they look to avenge last weekend's defeat.

They hope to have Dominic Ryan and Dave Kearney available, but D'Arcy is a doubt after limping off during the second half. Harlequins are likely to be without influential out-half Nick Evans, who suffered an abductor injury in Sunday's game.

Belfast Telegraph


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