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Byrne selection instructive as Sexton 'good to go' for Toulouse

The Leinster captain is not involved against Glasgow today, but is due to be back for next weekend’s Champions Cup semi-final.

HAVING BEEN KEPT in cold storage for the best part of three weeks, Leo Cullen has reported that Johnny Sexton ‘is good to go’ for next Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final against Toulouse. 

The Leinster captain has not played since Ireland’s Six Nations defeat in Cardiff at the end of last month, while his last game for the province was at Thomond Park back in December.

Johnny Sexton Sexton is winning his fitness battle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Sexton picked up a quad injury in the build-up to the European quarter-final win over Ulster but having rehabbed the issue behind the scenes, is not set to return for the Aviva Stadium showdown with Toulouse on Easter Sunday.

The selection of Ross Byrne at out-half for today’s Pro14 game against Glasgow Warriors also suggests Sexton is ready to go for the last four tie, on the basis that Cullen would hardly risk Byrne if there were still concerns over the World Player of the Year.

“Johnny is good to go,” Cullen said yesterday. “He’s trained well the last couple of days. He is in good spirits. He looked good today. He looked good yesterday.”

Although Byrne was outstanding in the quarter-final last month, Sexton’s return to fitness would be a major fillip for the defending European champions, while Devin Toner and Robbie Henshaw both make their respective injury comebacks against the Warriors at the RDS this afternoon.

Will Connors is named on the Leinster bench and could make his first appearance of the season after recovering from the ACL injury he sustained in pre-season, and the flanker provides Cullen with more options at openside following the loss of Dan Leavy and Josh van der Flier. 

Mick Kearney has been ruled out of the rest of the campaign, however, as the second row was forced to undergo surgery earlier in the week for the shoulder injury he sustained against Benetton last Saturday.

While Toner’s return is timely, the news stretches Cullen’s second row options for the run-in, with Ross Molony also struggling with a back problem and Ian Nagle on loan at Ulster. 20-year-old Jack Dunne makes his full debut today.  

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