Sexton set to be fit for November Tests as Henshaw makes progress

The 36-year-old suffered a hip injury last weekend while playing for Leinster.

Sexton is set to be fit for the autumn series.
Sexton is set to be fit for the autumn series.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

JOHNNY SEXTON IS set to be fit for Ireland’s November Tests against Japan, New Zealand, and Argentina, while Robbie Henshaw is making progress with his foot injury.

36-year-old out-half Sexton was replaced in the second half of Leinster’s win over Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship last weekend after sustaining a hip injury.

Leinster carried out further assessment of Sexton’s injury yesterday and though he may not feature for the province this weekend against Glasgow, there are no fears over his involvement in Ireland’s autumn series, which begins against Japan on 6 November.

Henshaw remains far more of a concern as he continues to rehab a foot injury. The 28-year-old has yet to play this season, having had a delayed return to training after being involved with the Lions tour over the summer.

Although Henshaw definitely won’t return against Glasgow on Friday, Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster didn’t rule him out of featuring for Ireland in November.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is due to name his squad for the autumn Tests tomorrow.

“I think Johnny will be fine,” said Lancaster yesterday.

“He didn’t train today but it’s not an injury to be too concerned about for the November internationals, that’s for sure.

“Robbie has been out a while obviously, so he’s just getting back to running rather than training. How far are we away from Japan? Three weeks. Four weeks from New Zealand, so he’s definitely moving in the right direction for that, definitely.

“Obviously, he wouldn’t be available for us this week against Glasgow so he’s out of that.

“I’d be pretty optimistic for them.”

While Leinster may be without Sexton and Henshaw this weekend, they have welcomed Dave Kearney, Harry Byrne, and Rory O’Loughlin back to training this week after recent injuries.

Jimmy O’Brien pulled out of the Scarlets game due to illness and needs further assessment this week, while lock James Ryan is undergoing the return-to-play protocols after a head injury last weekend.

Lancaster has warned that Leinster face a tough challenge at Scotstoun as they look to maintain their 100% start to the season.

stuart-lancaster Leinster head for Glasgow this Friday night. Source: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO

“Glasgow is one of the most difficult places to go, Friday night, the crowd is back in Scotland, and we’ve had some good nights there and some not-so-good nights,” said Lancaster.

“I remember a couple of years ago, they beat us fair and square. The last game we played against them in the Rainbow Cup we lost 15-12 which sticks in the memory because it was the most recent.

“Danny Wilson has done a good job and Nigel Carolan has gone there from Connacht, he knows us pretty well. Cillian [Reardon], our S&C guy, has gone there, so there’s a fair bit of knowledge.

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“They’ve just got a really good squad that play a high-tempo brand of rugby. On the back of the Dave Rennie era, they’re very competitive and combative.”

This Friday will be Leinster’s last game until 27 November due to the URC avoiding clashes with Test match dates, a new reality that makes life more difficult for Lancaster and Leo Cullen in terms of managing their squad.

“We’ve got so many internationals away during November and the Six Nations, so that was a great development opportunity for younger players who maybe ordinarily wouldn’t get game time,” said Lancaster.

“So we’ve got to hit the sweet spot now to keep those guys developing without competitive league rugby. That’s something that’s in the back of all our minds. It’s not even the young 20- or 21-year-old… how do you keep a Scott Penny or a Josh Murphy, these guys… you think about Ronan Kelleher and Dan Sheehan, you’ve still got Sean Cronin and James Tracy [at hooker].

“You’ve got Devin Toner in the second row who wants a game, Jack Dunne coming back from injury, Brian Deeny coming through who needs a game. They were always really good games for us in that window.

“I understand it from a league point of view but purely from a developmental point of view, I think we will need to, in the future, factor in some games in this window even if they’re A team games or friendly games.

“In England, they’ve got the Premiership Cup. It takes place and that makes sense because it gives the young lads coming out of the 20s but maybe not making the first team a chance to play in the Leicester shirt or Saracens shirt or, I guess, the Leinster shirt.”

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