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Monday 22 December 2014

Metro just for journey the ticket into chaos

AS far as Leinster Team Manager Guy Easterby is concerned the answer is a simple "no" about whether Jonathan Sexton could possibly go to French club Racing Metro.

"He is a Dublin boy, isn't he? He's been here a long time. Obviously, he's number ten. He is a very important player for the club. He has contributed a lot over the last few years," responded Easterby.

"There is nothing to say. It is not unsettling ahead of what is a massive game this weekend because that is where everyone's focus is."

It is that time of the year when the contract rumour mill starts to churn out stories about the future of players. It is about as expected as night and day.

Around Christmas 2010, the contracts of Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Sexton were a topic of hot debate. The possibility of them moving out of the system was heavily mooted.

In January 2011, Heaslip signed a contract extension to the summer of 2014, while Sexton decided a two-year stint was all he was prepared to commit to.

Last year, there was the protracted saga over Luke Fitzgerald's contract when he was offered a significantly reduced Ireland contract.

Former Ireland international prop Des Fitzgerald, Luke's father, was known to be deeply disappointed with the value the Irish Rugby Football Union placed on the 2009 British & Irish test Lion.

The whole thing was turning into a media circus before Fitzgerald's neck injury intervened to remove any prospect of a transfer out of Ireland.

He stayed on a one-year deal.

Now, it is the turn of Sexton. His contract concludes in the summer. The confirmed Ireland and prospective British & Irish Lions fly-half is a wanted man here and abroad. But, he will stay - apparently.

The two most important threads that bind these three together are the facts that their contract negotiations have found their way into the public arena and that they share the same management company and, perhaps, the same management style.

It is also a simple fact of Irish rugby that not one confirmed first choice Ireland international has taken the bold decision to move abroad for greater financial reward in the professional era.

Geordan Murphy moved to Leicester Tigers before he made his name in the professional game. Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings were not first choice for Ireland. Neither was Bob Casey. Neither was Trevor Brennan.



instability

There would seem to be little reason for Sexton to leave his home club, one that pushes the way he likes to play and treats players professionally and respectfully, for the sheer instability that exists at Racing Metro.

Neither the IRFU nor Sexton's agents, Platinum One, would comment on the situation but fellow Leinster stars Eoin Reddan and Sean O'Brien have pleaded with their team-mate to stay.

"I'm assuming he'll stay, I hope he's staying," said Reddan.

"It is difficult for me to be stepping in publicly and giving advice either way.

"Jonny is a really good friend of mine and I hope he stays.

"I can't stress that enough.

"I don't know how big or how serious the stuff is, but, to me, I'm hoping the news is he is going to be staying and that's what I'm hoping for.

"I don't really want to get into a more personal situation, if I had a bit more I might say something but I don't know anything more about it."

O'Brien added: "There's always speculation around contract time and I wouldn't read too much into it to be honest.

"I don't think there's any prospect of him leaving."

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