Leinster make it clear: Sexton was not dropped

Leinster make it clear: Sexton was not dropped

Leinster are keen to make one thing abundantly clear: Jonathan Sexton was not dropped for their Guinness PRO14 semi-final against Munster at the RDS last Saturday.

The province made four personnel changes to the side for that game from the 15 that started against Saracens the week before in the Champions Cup decider. Sexton's switch from ten to the bench was the most eye-catching of them.

Head coach Leo Cullen took issue with what he described as headlines with a “nasty edge” after his side had come through the game against their Irish rivals, claiming words such as 'dropped' were unfair and only sensationalised his selection policy.

“This has to be clear, Johnny was not dropped,” said assistant coach Felipe Contepomi when asked to clarify the selection on the back of Cullen's response. “If that's the way people want to see it or say it, that's a perception or something that someone says from outside.

“We, and when I say we, it's not only the staff but the players as well, we all want the best for Leinster and Johnny demonstrated how great a team player and leader he is because he is the captain of the team. Coming back from a very bruised 80 minutes in the Champions Cup and all (after) he was injured.

“We thought, and everyone agreed, that maybe the best thing for him was to come off the bench and be fresh or as fresh as possible. He showed... his show and go and break, and I think sometimes... I'm not saying journalists but you want to have a headline of 'Jonathan Sexton dropped'. We don't drop him, we all agree and are in the same boat and Johnny is one of them.”

Ross Byrne played exceptionally well in deputising for the skipper against Munster but it would be hard to label it an other way than a demotion for the 2018 world player of the year if the younger man was to again get the nod this week.

That's never going to happen if both are fit for the final against Glasgow Warriors at Celtic Park on Saturday. Definitely out for that decider is Devin Toner who came off against Munster with a knee injury.

"He is still going under some studies but he's definitely ruled out for this week,” said Contepomi. “We'd like to think it's not a long-term injury but we still don't have all the tests. He's going through MRIs and those things.

"I haven't spoken directly to Dev about his World Cup prospects but I'm telling you, we hope it's not a long-term injury so, hopefully, he'll be fine for the World Cup. It's still three months to go for kick-off."

Josh van der Flier came through his impressive return to action after months on the sideline with a groin injury and is fit to again take his place.

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