Belfast Telegraph

Skipper Sexton has Leinster hopes in his capable hands


By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Tonight at the RDS Arena, Johnny Sexton returns to the place he belongs. Centre stage.

Back in Leinster blue with his reputation enhanced by a warrior-like effort with the Lions in New Zealand, the 31-year-old general takes official control of his side as they take on Edinburgh.

Although he has long been a key leader in the ranks, the armband is rarely assigned to the out-half, who captains Leinster for only the third time.

If he manages nine points tonight he will become Leinster's all-time top scorer, surpassing Felipe Contepomi's record of 1,225, and will etch his name in the record books.

"Someone like Johnny has been around, he's done a hell of a lot in the game and he's got an amazing mind as well," coach Leo Cullen said.

"Isa (Nacewa) is captain of the club and carries out a similar role, he's got unbelievable experience and actually been both sides of it having gone back and had a coaching role with the Blues.

"Those guys are great drivers. Johnny is captain of the team, and the experience he has, the Lions tours he's been on, the Ireland games he's played, with Leinster and even his experiences in France as well gives him incredible experience.

"Great teams have great leaders and yeah, they've a huge say in how the team is run and rightly so.

"As he's getting older he's evolving all the time.

"He's 100 per cent Leinster and he wants Leinster to win and do well. He has amazing drive to get better whether it is with Leinster or with Ireland.

"We're lucky to have him here in Ireland is the way I look at it."

With Jamie Heaslip sidelined for the foreseeable future and Nacewa out with a calf problem, the onus is on Sexton to stay fit and drive Leinster's early-season effort. As long as he's there, they're in safe hands.

Guinness Pro14 fixtures (7.35pm unless stated): Cheetahs v Ospreys (4pm), Glasgow Warriors v Benetton Treviso, Leinster v Edinburgh, Scarlets v Connacht

Belfast Telegraph

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