Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen Responds To Johnny Sexton Sabbatical Rumours
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Ireland boss Joe Schmidt recently revealed that Johnny Sexton could take some time out of the game after his latest injury set-back.
The playmaker damaged his right hamstring in the defeat to New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium after struggling with his left hamstring in the lead up to the Autumn series.
Sexton has been plagued by a variety of injuries since touring with the Lions and moving to Racing 92 in 2013 and the latest issue could see the IRFU and Leinster agree to allow him some time off to get the injury right.
Mid-career sabbaticals have become a growing trend in rugby and Australia’s David Pocock will take a year out of the game after playing England on Saturday. The likes of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw have also taken breaks in the past in a bid to prolong their careers.
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen however, has spoken out about the talks for the first time and while he says Sextons health will come first, he doesn’t seem to believe it will be for an extended period.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner Cullen had this to say on the matter when asked whether Sexton will be out for a mere three to four weeks or a longer ‘sabbatical’ period.
“That’s exactly it — it’s just to try and get his body right.
“It’s not like Johnny’s going to go off and do the Camino or whatever else it is people do.
“It’s about trying to make sure next time he comes back and plays, whenever that may be, he’s in the best possible shape.” added Cullen, who confirmed that there has been a ‘combined approach’ between Leinster and Ireland in an effort to get the out-half back to full fitness.
Cullen seemed bullish in his response, indicating that Sexton may not end up on an extended break at all.
“There’s a lot of joined-up thinking. He’s one of the key assets in Irish rugby, one of the most important guys. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is what’s best for Johnny.
“There has been several discussions. What we’re trying to get to the bottom is, we just want to know what’s right for Johnny, how do we make him stronger and more resilient.
“I hear talk about his resilience and his injury profile, but you think of the amount of games he has played, roughly 250. It’s a lot of games.
“If he takes a week or takes three or four weeks, whatever the case may be, we’ll just do what’s right by Johnny.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.