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'He’s still as good as ever' - Sexton very much in the mix for third Lions tour

The 35-year-old is hoping to be part of the trip to South Africa this summer.

Sexton was a Lions tourist in 2013 and 2017.
Sexton was a Lions tourist in 2013 and 2017.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

LIONS FORWARDS COACH Robin McBryde says Johnny Sexton is “as good as ever” as attack coach Gregor Townsend confirmed the 35-year-old out-half is very much in the mix to travel on his third tour this summer.

Sexton was part of the 2013 and 2017 tours under head coach Warren Gatland and will hope to be named in the Lions squad again on 6 May, when Gatland is due to reveal a selection of around 36 players for this summer’s trip to South Africa.

Townsend – who is accustomed to coaching against Sexton in his capacity as Scotland boss – confirmed that the Leinster man will be in consideration at out-half along with the likes of Owen Farrell, Finn Russell, and Dan Biggar.

“Johnny is obviously very much in the mix,” said Townsend. “It’s a very strong position with players at the top of the game at a good age. Finn Russell is 28, Dan Biggar [31] is a bit older and Farrell [29] is a similar age.

“Johnny is older but with a lot of experience and played really well against Scotland. So there’s real depth there at 10 with plenty more discussions to come.”

McBryde works alongside Sexton in his role as an assistant coach for Leinster and is convinced that the Ireland captain has plenty to offer the Lions again this summer. 

Sexton has been undergoing the return-to-play protocols this week after suffering a head injury in the first half of Leinster’s win over Exeter last weekend, having also suffered a head injury during the recent Six Nations.

“I think he’s still as good as ever,” said McBryde. “Obviously, I left the Leinster bubble on Saturday to come here.

“Look, I think he’s performing well, the last game against England proved that as well and yeah hopefully he’ll be OK.”

Meanwhile, Lions kicking coach Neil Jenkins – who is set for his sixth tour as a player and coach this summer – praised Sexton’s longevity.

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“He has been an incredible player, hasn’t he?” said Jenkins. “Watching him this year, watching closely because when we played Ireland he was a big threat to us. A fantastic player for Leinster and Ireland and he has been for the Lions as well.

“We’ve got Alun Wyn [Jones] as well who is 35, these guys seem to get better and better. It’s incredible what they actually do, especially with the demands of the modern game too.

“Johnny has been incredible, it’s no surprise to me that he’s banging down the door to get onto the Lions tour. He’s a fantastic player and he’s having a decent season.”

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Murray Kinsella

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