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left out ‘It’s very tough on Johnny’ - Assistant Neil Jenkins explains Sexton omission from Lions squad


Johnny Sexton has missed out on the Lions

Johnny Sexton has missed out on the Lions

Johnny Sexton has missed out on the Lions

Lions assistant coach Neil Jenkins says Johnny Sexton was unlucky to miss out on selection for this year's tour to South Africa.

Warren Gatland has decided to go with Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell and Finn Russell as his out-halves for the tour, meaning the Ireland captain, who started five of the last six Tests in the No 10 shirt and came off the bench in the other, misses out.

Jenkins praised the quality of the men who made it, while admitting that concerns over Sexton's durability played a role.

“Obviously, it’s very tough on Johnny," Jenkins said.

"I agree he’s a fantastic player. His goal-kicking in this Six Nations has been very, very good, the best I’ve seen him kick, off the floor especially.

"I know he’s very good anyway, but he’s been exceptional in this Six Nations.

“Look it’s very, very tough. We’ve got Dan Biggar in Wales, Finn Russell, Owen Farrell and obviously Johnny. Someone was going to miss out and Finn missed out four years ago and this time, sadly, it’s Johnny.

“I don’t think it’s an easy way to go around it really. He’s a fantastic player and it’s very difficult to pick (from) the four of them and just sadly at this moment in time Johnny has missed out.”

Sexton has recently been stood down after suffering three head injuries in nine weeks, and the 1997 tour full-back said his absence did play a role in the decision.

“Obviously, there is a little bit of concern about the concussions and stuff like that, there’s no doubting that. But that’s obviously for the medical staff and the medical side of things and a little bit of durability," he said.

“But look, he’s a fantastic player, I’m not questioning that whatsoever but it’s very difficult where we’re going with the physicality and presence we’re going to bring, and the other boys are very, very good themselves.

“So it was very difficult, whoever was going to miss out was going to be extremely disappointed and rightly so. Sadly, at this point in time it’s Johnny. He’s a fantastic player and he’s been exceptional on the last two Lions tours that I’ve been on, he’s been very good with myself.

“I just see myself as a facilitator for these boys. They’re the best of the best when they turn up and we try to keep them doing the same stuff that they do whether it be with Ireland, Scotland, England or Wales.

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“He had a good Six Nations but the other guys did as well. Owen is a fantastic player and been there and done it himself. It’s not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination.”

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