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Sexton ready to hit the ground running against high-fliers in RDS after solid build-up

Head coach Leo Cullen reports that Sexton has been taking a full part in training for some time and won’t be taking on the Ospreys cold.

Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

LEO CULLEN EXPECTS out-half Jonathan Sexton to hit the ground running on his return from injury in tomorrow night’s Pro12 clash at home to table-topping Ospreys (19.35, TG4).

The playmaker has not played since the Pro12 Grand Final loss to Connacht and underwent surgery in June to leave him out of Ireland’s tour to South Africa.

Now though, Cullen reports that Sexton has had a solid bank of fitness built up to make an impact against the league’s form side.

“He’s trained well over the last number of weeks. He’s been fully involved in training,” Cullen said at the RDS this afternoon.

Leo Cullen and Isa Nacewa Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Some injured players come back on the field and they’re almost straight into it (cold). Whereas with a shoulder he’s managed himself, non-contact for a couple of weeks, and he’s trained well.

“I’m looking forward to see him in action tomorrow.”

The head coach is far from being the only one excited by the out-half’s return. The settled back-line of Noel Reid, Garry Ringrose, Isa Nacewa, Dave Kearney and Zane Kirchner will be chomping at the bit to help Sexton ignite the attack on home turf.

Sexton’s return means Joey Carbery takes a place on the bench with Jamison Gibson-Park the only other back named among the replacements, the newly recruited Kiwi having spent some of the week nursing a shoulder knock himself.

Mike McCarthy Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

Despite six forwards being named on the bench, Mike McCarthy dropped out of the matchday 23 altogether this week. That move was partly down to the delicate balance of building up a pack’s match fitness while holding some older bodies back, according to Cullen.

“We just wanted to freshen Mike up. We want to get Mick Kearney up to speed. It can be difficult for forwards to get games to get up and running.

“Mick’s missed a bit, he played 40 minutes for Clontarf against UCD at the weekend, so good to get him through that.

“Ross (Molony) has played a good few games. Mike, it’s about freshening him up; he had come back after a long absence and played a number of games – just trying to keep some of the older guys fresh, take care of them.”

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Sean Farrell

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