Belfast Telegraph

Sexton's return boosts Leinster's chances of landing historic double

 

By David Kelly

Jonathan Sexton is expected to be passed fit to lead all-conquering Leinster's assault on an historic trophy double when head coach Leo Cullen unveils his side for tomorrow's Guinness PRO14 decider against Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium.

Sexton has shrugged off a calf problem to take his place in a side which will also be boosted in their quest for an historic European and domestic double by the inclusions of Dan Leavy and the retiring Isa Nacewa.

Sexton struggled with a calf injury during the Champions Cup final win against Racing 92, which forced him to cede place-kicking duties to Nacewa in the second half, and he subsequently sat out last weekend's semi-final win against Munster.

Leavy (hamstring) and Nacewa (calf) have shrugged off their knocks, while Scott Fardy is likely to get the nod once more in the back row.

Meanwhile, Wayne Pivac has called on his Scarlets side to prove that winning the tournament last season was not a one-off.

The defending champions were ruthless in disposing of Glasgow last week, and they pose a real threat to Leinster's hopes of clinching that historic double.

The Scarlets' last visit to the Aviva Stadium didn't quite go according to plan, however, as they were hammered by Leinster in the Champions Cup semi-final last month.

"We've certainly looked at that game and were obviously very disappointed at the time in the sense that we didn't really fire too many shots at them," Pivac admitted.

"We feel like we're building nicely and have room to improve and that's a good space to be in.

"It's definitely what we've been aiming for since day one from my arrival here, to build something that could go on for a long time.

"We don't really want to be a one-season wonder and I think we're seeing that with the growth of the side over the last two seasons," he added.

"To get to this final and semi-finals in Europe is progression from last year and we'd like to build on that again next year."

Elsewhere, newly-installed Connacht coach Andy Friend has declared that he "can't wait to get started" after being handed a three-year deal in the wake of Kieran Keane's abrupt exit earlier this month.

"I'm proud and honoured. An exciting young team and Connacht have genuine rugby folk. I can't wait to get started," said the 49-year-old Australian.

Belfast Telegraph

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