Sexton, Furlong and Ruddock concerns before Leinster's Montpellier trip

The Ireland international trio will all look to overcome minor injuries this week.

LEINSTER HAVE CONCERNS over the fitness of Johnny Sexton, Rhys Ruddock and Tadhg Furlong ahead of next weekend’s trip to Montpellier.

Sexton sat out the eastern province’s opening Champions Cup fixture of the season, a 33-15 win over Castres at the RDS today, having been unavailable due to a “hamstring strain.”

Jonathan Sexton Sexton was missing for Leinster today. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

The 31-year-old Ireland out-half must now prove his fitness for the visit to Jake White’s Montpellier on Sunday. Head coach Leo Cullen said Sexton’s hamstring injury is a “low-grade one, if anything.”

“Johnny did a good bit of rehab today and started his introduction to running again, so we’ll see how he comes through,” said Cullen at the RDS after the win over Castres. “We have the advantage of the eight-day turnaround.”

Tighthead prop Furlong was replaced late in the first half this afternoon, with Ireland international Mike Ross taking his place in the front row.

“Tadhg had a bit of tightness in his hamstring, I’m not sure how bad it is, he just felt it,” said Cullen.

“With Mike there, we took him off as soon as possible and we’ll get it assessed. I’m not too sure how bad it was, it didn’t look too bad. He was walking off ok, but he’s had a bit of a bite there.”

Blindside flanker Ruddock, meanwhile, was withdrawn early in the second half, with Dan Leavy slotting into the back row in his stead.

“He just had a bit of tightness in his calf, so we’ll see how he is,” said Cullen. “We didn’t want to take any risks at that stage and with Dan on the bench, we were comfortable putting him in there, because he has played plenty as well.”

Joey Carbery and Isa Nacewa celebrate after the game Joey Carbery wore the 10 shirt today. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

With Sexton missing, 20-year-old Joey Carbery stepped into the 10 shirt for his European debut, impressing once again with a calm and incisive performance behind Leinster’s dominant pack.

Cullen was pleased to see the youngster take his chance at the RDS.

“I thought Joey acquitted himself well. He’s coming into the team this year – he made his debut last season – and he’s come in in pre-season and had a really good run of games early in the Pro12.

He’s getting better all the time, he works incredibly hard. He’s a pleasure to coach, because you can see the energy he brings. He’s a brave player and I thought he went well, similar to what he’s done this season.

“It wasn’t a great surprise, but we were just delighted that it’s another positive experience for him because he works hard and wants to get better.”

Isa Nacewa took on the place-kicking duties ahead of Carbery, but Cullen explained that there was a simple reason for that.

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“Isa’s the captain and he just said ‘I’m kicking.’ It’s hard to argue with him really!”

While Leinster secured a maximum five match points with their victory over Castres, the day’s other Pool 4 clash saw Montpellier lost 16-14 away to Northampton, with a late, late Stephen Myler penalty sealing the win for the Premiership side.

Leo Cullen Cullen is now planning to beat Montpellier in France. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leinster now begin preparations for next Sunday’s clash with Montpellier at Altrad Stadium.

“Montpellier are a big, physical side with a lot of South African influence,” said Cullen of the challenge that awaits. “They have a World Cup-winning coach in Jake White, so it will be a really, really good test for us.

“They’re a team that will run hard, be direct and I think that’s the way Jake White likes to set his teams up.”

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Murray Kinsella

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