Leinster’s run-in to the weekend’s crucial Heineken Champions Cup clash with Toulouse at the RDS got off to a worrying start yesterday with news that Jonathan Sexton is a serious doubt.
Senior coach Stuart Lancaster revealed that the Ireland out-half has not trained since suffering a lower leg injury during the defeat to Munster two weekends ago and he rated the player as just 50-50 for the visit of the French aristocrats.
Not good news for Leinster, although Lancaster was quick to extinguish fears that the issue was anything that could leave Sexton a doubt for Ireland’s opening Six Nations game, against England in Dublin on February 2.
“It is definitely nothing like that. It is certainly something we will see how it goes today and tomorrow,” Lancaster stressed yesterday.
The hope is that the veteran will take some part in training today but Lancaster was keen to big up the abilities of his potential replacement, Ross Byrne, who has started big European games in the past. That may or may not be significant.
As with Sexton, neither Devin Toner nor Jack McGrath trained yesterday but, while Leinster could be light on some front-liners this weekend, there is at least the considerable consolation that Robbie Henshaw is in the frame to feature.
It was expected that Henshaw would be marked absent until the end of January with a hamstring injury suffered in the warm-up of the Ireland-Argentina game in November but he is now training “under medical supervision” and is rated a possibility for Toulouse.
“Robbie’s done really well. He’s worked hard off the field. He’s in great condition,” said Lancaster. “He put himself into contention for this game, providing he ticks the final boxes today and tomorrow.
“Basically, there’s a protocol you have to follow, markers you have to hit, strength, power, etc. At the moment, Robbie is ticking all those boxes.”