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Dublin: 4°C Friday 5 March 2021

No Jonny Sexton in Racing Métro squad

The Ireland out-half will be putting his feet up this weekend in Paris.

Sexton has been left out for tomorrow's clash with Montpellier.
Sexton has been left out for tomorrow's clash with Montpellier.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

SENSE HAS PREVAILED, with Jonny Sexton left out of Racing Métro’s squad for their Top 14 clash against Montpellier tomorrow evening.

After a hugely tiring schedule with Ireland over the past month, Racing’s backs coach Laurent Labit, much to his displeasure, has decided that his team must give the out-half a rest weekend.

Sexton came into Ireland camp earlier this month with a groin problem and missed the Samoa clash in order to freshen himself sufficiently to start against Australia. He was withdrawn at half time of that game with a hamstring tear, and was forced off the pitch early in last weekend’s defeat to New Zealand with what Joe Schmidt termed “tightness”.

The Ireland coach vocalised his discontent with the amount of game time Sexton has already racked up in the Top 14 this season, and it appears those words have not fallen on deaf ears in Paris. It would have been understandable if Racing had started their star player tomorrow; they are the ones who pay his lucrative wages after all.

Sexton has become pivotal to Racing during the short space of time he has been with the club. The Parisians find themselves 10th in the league and have had real problems scoring tries. The Irishman has been a rare bright spark amongst some of the drudgery and his attacking invention is crucial.

Last weekend, Les Racingmen were hammered 47-14 in Clermont, thanks to a performance that club president Jacky Lorenzetti branded “humiliating.” Labit, one of the duo who make up Racing’s head coaching team, admitted that his players simply weren’t up to scratch and said there was too big a divide between his first-choice and second-choice players.

That made Sexton’s immediate return to the starting XV a possibility, but this is excellent news for Ireland. If Schmidt is going to have a genuine chance of winning the Six Nations, he needs his out-half fit and ready.

Racing appear to be concerned over the long-term health of their most important player too; any serious injury to Sexton and their chances of pushing back into the play-off spots will be diminished. The issue of guarding players from playing too many games is sometimes overblown but in this case, the concern is very real.

- This game kicks off at 5.30pm Irish time tomorrow evening and is being televised live. Montpellier have named new signings Rene Ranger and Robert Ebersohn in their starting team, alongside established stars like Mamuka Gorgodze and François Trin-Duc. It should be a cracker.

Like rugby? Follow’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >

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Murray Kinsella

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