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Friday 17 August 2018

Sexton still a doubt for Scarlets

Johnny Sexton
Johnny Sexton

It will be D-Day for Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Sexton, Isa Nacewa and Dan Leavy at Leinster training today ahead of the PRO14 final against Scarlets at The Aviva Stadium on Saturday (6.0, TG4 and Sky Sports Action).

It is there they will be asked to convince the coaches and the medical staff that they are ready to go one more time in blue.

Scrum coach John Fogarty spoke about the genuine "hope" surrounding Sexton's calf, Nacewa's calf and Leavy's hamstring.

The signs are less optimistic on Robbie Henshaw's knee injury picked up against Racing 92 in the Champions Cup final.

Even there, the Athlone man is no stranger to miraculous recoveries from his recent shoulder reconstruction.

Should Henshaw and Nacewa fail to come through, it will leave coach Leo Cullen with a difficult decision to make in a compromised centre partnership.

It would limit Leinster to either using Noel Reid in the centre or moving Garry Ringrose closer to Jonathan Sexton and going with Rory O'Loughlin or Jordan Larmour at thirteen.

Of course, Sexton is paramount to the way Leinster will expose the West Wales club.

For all of the progress made by Ross Byrne this season, Sexton remains the first name on the sheet for all the obvious reasons.

The climb of Leavy from fringe first-team to the most dominant personality in the back row has been powered by his unshakeable self-belief.

Leinster will need everyone on board and in-synchronisation to complete the League-Cup double.

"They'll (Scarlets) have so much emotional energy leading into this week because they won't like what happened in the Aviva the last day," warned Fogarty.

"They've got a really good coaching team. I think they'll evolve and they'll learn.

"That's something that we need to be so cautious and careful of."

Scarlets will come to Dublin without captain Jon Barclay, struck down with ankle and Achilles injuries.

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