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Thursday 29 September 2016

Leinster look to master locksmith Sexton for the key

Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton

Leinster club captain Isa Nacewa has been cleared to play in the PRO12 League final.

The understandable fears surrounding a scan on his arm subsided when the results "came back all clear," according to backs coach Girvan Dempsey.

Better again, Rob Kearney joined the swelling ranks of those fit and able to make a statement of intent this week for the honour of playing at Murrayfield.

Out-half Jonathan Sexton (glute) and centre Ben Te'o (calf strain) are not thought to be in danger of missing out as their minor concerns will be managed through the week.

Wing Fergus McFadden has also convinced the medical staff of his right to fight for a place in the squad.

From this elite quintet, the influence of Sexton stands out as Leinster's main weapon against mass devastation in the final. The improvements made by Paddy Jackson this season only served to fuel his fire last Friday.

"Johnny has been exceptional, a really good leader off the field," said Dempsey.

"I think you look at the way he managed the game overall and the way he brought the backs and forwards into play, and the way he managed his kicking game to put pressure back on Ulster. It was exceptional.

"Off the ground his kicking game was brilliant and I think his all-round game was excellent."

The idea that Leinster will steam-roll their way to another trophy was debunked by Dempsey.

"I think you look at Connacht's consistent form throughout the season, it's been excellent.

"You look at the league table and it's fitting that it's one-plays-two as the league ran out.

"They score tries and challenge you in every facet of the game," said Dempsey.

"It stems from their set piece and everyone knowing their role.

"It's been very effective every year and it's a challenge for every team to negate that attacking game."

This has been augmented by a stiffening defence which was pierced just twice in two games by Glasgow's attack.

It will take a master locksmith to unpick it.

Step forward Sexton.

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