Tuesday 19 March 2019

Leinster trio given the green light for final

READY: Jonathan Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile
READY: Jonathan Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile

Jonathan Sexton, Isa Nacewa and Dan Leavy have all come through to prove their fitness ahead of the PRO14 final on Saturday between Leinster and Scarlets (KO 6.0, TG4 and Sky Sports Action).

There has been widespread anxiety over the availability of all three following their omission from the semi-final last week.

The Scarlets will not be best-pleased to see how Sexton has recovered from a calf injury that compromised his kicking duties in the Champions Cup final last Saturday week.

It goes without saying that Sexton has the double impact of making Leinster better and the opposition think twice in defence.

"He is probably one of the best players in the world at the moment," said Scarlets left-wing, Steff Evans.

"What he does, he plays so flat to the line that you don't know whether he's going to kick it or pass it. That's why you have to be wary.

"For them, they have a lot of players that run off him. He can hit them on the inside or the outside.

"He's got a great kicking game and he's very aggressive.

"The last time we didn't get stuck into him. This week is going to be completely different."


Flanker Leavy has passed all the tests on his hamstring to return to the fold.

Captain Nacewa has defied the march of Father Time once again to shake off his calf complaint.

It is just as well given Robbie Henshaw will play no part in the event.

The inside centre will be held back for Ireland's three-test tour to Australia next month as part of the 32-man squad to be led by Rory Best.

Leinster out-half Ross Byrne and Munster-bound back-five forward Tadhg Beirne are the two uncapped players in Joe Schmidt's squad.

Byrne has benefited from his form and Ian Keatley's fall-off in the last month to grab a third slot in the squad behind Sexton and Joey Carbery.

However, Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath must feel deflated at losing out to Kieran Marmion and John Cooney in backing up Conor Murray.


IRELAND 32-Man squad (v Australia)

FORWARDS (18): R Best (capt), T Beirne, J Conan, S Cronin, T Furlong, C Healy, I Henderson, R Herring, D Leavy, J McGrath, J Murphy, P O'Mahony, A Porter, Q Roux, James Ryan, John Ryan, CJ Stander, D Toner.

BACKS (14): B Aki, R Byrne, J Carbery, A Conway, J Cooney, K Earls, R Henshaw, R Kearney, J Larmour, K Marmion, C Murray, G Ringrose, J Sexton, J Stockdale.

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