Sexton injury is the setback Ireland feared

rugby28 March 2023 09:25| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel

The fears that Irish kingpin Johnny Sexton’s injury may be a career-ending one would probably be the worst thing that Ireland coach Andy Farrell would want to hear.

The 37-year old Sexton, who was instrumental in Ireland’s surge to their Grand Slam and Six Nations titles in the past two months, was eyeing the World Cup as his swansong, but now it seems he may miss the send-off that he so craves because of the groin injury, sustained in Ireland’s last match against Scotland.

Ireland are rightly No 1 in the world at the moment and are considered odds-on favourites for the Rugby World Cup, but the side does have the historical baggage of never having made it past the quarterfinals of the showpiece tournament.

Sexton’s story was that this was supposed to be the crucial crowning moment in a long career - and perhaps it may still be, but the noises coming from his club Leinster don’t seem very positive at the moment.

Leinster themselves are looking to try and do a European double this season and would have wanted Sexton to guide them to more glory for the Dublin side.

While Leinster have already started preparing themselves that Sexton won’t be seen in the clubs colours again, the bigger question is whether the injury will keep him out long term and put his World Cup - which starts in less than six months - in doubt.

In a press release circulated on Monday afternoon the Irish province explained the injury “will likely keep him sidelined for the remainder of the Leinster season”.

Sexton’s last appearance for Leinster was against Connacht on New Year’s day.

Even Sexton’s coach Leo Cullen at Leinster didn’t want to speculate on his future, especially as the flyhalf sees a specialist on Tuesday.

“I don't know, is the answer," said Cullen when asked when Sexton would be ready to play.

"I'm not expecting anything. I'm hopeful but I'm not sure. He's going to see a specialist.

"Whatever the outcome it's to make the best of the situation you are in, whatever the time frame.

"There are trophies on the line - players want to be involved in that.

It was a magical day to see Ireland win a Grand Slam for only the fourth time - and the fact that it's in Dublin for the first time makes it extra special.

"So, that’s probably what our guys are going after as well."

Cullen also didn’t want to give any oxygen to a suggestion that Leinster’s title hopes would be best served if Sexton comes back for the playoffs.

"The rhythm of playing, it's very hard to beat that. That's where you get your sharpness, when you're training all the time."

Leinster still have Ross and Harry Byrne, the latter who faced the Stormers last weekend and the former who was Sexton’s No 2 in the Six Nations squad, to guide them through the season.

But so much of Ireland’s success has been built around Sexton that him losing his fairytale ending - if that happens, will definitely be a knock for the side. Of course, Ireland are more than just one player, but in terms of everything they’ve achieved over the past few years, Sexton has been an integral part of it.

Ireland's opening World Cup warm-up test is against Italy in Dublin on 5 August and Sexton would probably need to be fit by then if he was to play a part in the World Cup plans.

In the meantime Farrell will be hoping that with so much big club rugby still on the cards over the next few months, no other injuries will pop up, and Sexton will be able to recover.