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IRFU will judge Sexton on form rather than age ahead of contract talks

The 35-year-old Ireland captain is one of those out of contract in June 2021.

Sexton is set to return for Ireland this weekend against Scotland.
Sexton is set to return for Ireland this weekend against Scotland.

IRFU PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR David Nucifora says the union will judge Johnny Sexton on his form rather than his age when it comes to contract discussions with the Ireland captain. 

35-year-old Sexton’s current central contract expires in June 2021 but the Leinster out-half has already underlined his desire to play on for several more seasons.

While the IRFU is not currently entering any contract discussions with players due to the financial uncertainty caused by Covid-19, they hope to resume such negotiations in the New Year.

As the current Ireland captain and first-choice out-half, Sexton’s deal will be among those at the top of Nucifora’s agenda.

“Age probably doesn’t really come into it from our point of view,” said Nucifora when asked about Sexton. “I mean performance does and I suppose Johnny, like other players, will just be judged on how they are playing and where they are at.

“We haven’t entered into negotiations with any of the players but as long as the standard of Johnny’s play is up to where it should be then we wouldn’t have any hesitation in speaking to Johnny about continuing.”

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Other leading Ireland internationals such as Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander, Tadhg Furlong, Keith Earls, Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy, and Iain Henderson are also out of contract next summer.

Indeed, Nucifora revealed that just over 50% of all contracted Irish players are out of contract next summer, meaning “there’s quite a bit of work to do with the provinces in being able to get that bedded down over the coming months.”

However, Nucifora remains confident that the IRFU can retain the players they are keen to keep in Ireland.

“We’re still assessing our financial status,” said Nucifora. “I’d be hopeful we can retain the majority of our players but, like in any market, there’s always risk and I couldn’t sit here and say definitely that we’re going to keep everyone. In the past, we’ve managed to keep pretty much most players we’ve wanted to keep.

“The player market around the world is affected, it’s not just us, and there are stresses on most markets but that doesn’t mean to say a player can’t either find a deal that suits him for whatever period of time it is in his career that is somewhere else.

“That might be an option, but as a general statement, I’d be confident that we’d be able to maintain the majority of players we want to keep.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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