JONATHAN Sexton is to play a leading role in the battle against childhood illness in Ireland.
The international rugby star has been named an official ambassador for the foundation that raises funds for Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.
The Dubliner's generous decision to line out as a children's champion was welcomed as he took up his position this week with the Children's Medical and Research Foundation (CMRF).
Fresh from his key role in Ireland's magnificent weekend victory over Australia, the Ireland and Racing Metro out-half will undoubtedly have a strategy to balance his busy training and match schedule and his new role as a CMRF ambassador.
The announcement is timely as the foundation is in the midst of raising €1.5m for a new out-patients clinic. There is a very real possibility of the new clinic will be delayed if sufficient funds are not raised.
"I am honoured to be in a position to help the children of Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, as part of my role as an ambassador for the CMRF," said the star player.
"I really enjoyed meeting all the children in the hospital who are extremely brave and inspirational considering the everyday challenges they face," he said.
"We are delighted to welcome Jonny on board as an official ambassador for the CMRF," said the foundation's chief executive Joe Quinsey.
"He is already one of Ireland's most successful sports stars and is someone all Irish people both admire and are proud of.
"We have no doubt Jonny will be a fantastic ambassador for us at a time when the need for donations and continued fundraising is paramount," he said.
The foundation is the principal fundraiser for the hospital and the National Children's Research Centre which is based on the hospital campus.
It helps the hospital to deliver state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, infrastructure, leisure and entertainment devices for the children, accommodation for families and other needs.
The foundation aids paediatric research and helped establish the research centre, a world-class facility with a modern laboratory.