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Johnny Sexton gives Ireland camp boost saying: ‘I’ll be ready for the World Cup’

Skipper ‘gutted’ to miss Champions Cup final but expects to be back for Ireland’s June training camp

Johnny Sexton leaves the pitch with an injury against England© SPORTSFILE

Jonathan Sexton tests his passing skills at the opening of the International Rugby Experience in Limerick.© Diarmuid Greene

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Johnny Sexton has given Andy Farrell a welcome boost by confirming that he’s on track to be fit to train with Ireland when they assemble for their World Cup training camp in June.

The out-half is “gutted” to miss the last few months of his storied Leinster career due to the groin injury he suffered in the Grand Slam win over England in March, but will hope that he can stay fit to lead Ireland to the tournament in France later this year.

Farrell is expected to name a large training squad in the days after the United Rugby Championship final on May 27, with the players getting a short break before reassembling for duty in mid-June to begin preparations for the World Cup in September.

“That’s the goal, that would be the expected time-frame,” Sexton said at the opening of the International Rugby Experience in Limerick yesterday.

“We come back on June 19, so that’s my goal, to be back fully with the squad, get rid of the physios and just have pre-season with the rest of them.

“I spoke to Josh (van der Flier) at the time of the injury, about how long it took to get back because he was the one guy who’d a similar injury. He got back in like record time, in nine or 10 weeks and so I was like, ‘Here we go, maybe the URC final if we got there’.

“But no, the surgeon says age matters, apparently, and the fact that I’m a kicker as well so I need to sort of special attention to the load that I’m put through and how I build up gradually through the gears with that. So it’s slightly different and it’s June 19.”

Sexton was an interested spectator at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday as his Leinster side reached the Champions Cup final with an impressive win over Toulouse.

Jonathan Sexton tests his passing skills at the opening of the International Rugby Experience in Limerick.© Diarmuid Greene

However, the club captain is frustrated not to be part of it as they gear up for the May 20 final against La Rochelle. “It’s gutting, isn’t it?” he said.

“That was why when I was coming off injured against England I immediately went to, ‘How long till I get back because it means a lot to play for Leinster?’

“Some other countries it’s country first, province second but with all the players in Ireland, of course Ireland is the pinnacle but it’s not like a big step down to play for our province, it means a lot to us.

“So very tough to miss them but that’s life, I’ve never missed a final with Leinster before so it’s something new but I’ll be wishing the lads well, they’re great friends of mine so hoping they do the business and bringing home five stars would be very special.

“I don’t think I feel a part of it massively but it will still mean a lot to retire from the club having as many stars as any other club.”

Sexton is expecting Leinster to face their biggest challenge against Ronan O’Gara’s holders.

“The toughest game is to come, like any Champions Cup the toughest game you play in is the final for many different reasons – pressure, expectation, all these things and it comes down to one day,” he said.

“We’ve been on the wrong side of it the last couple of times, before that we won four European Cups and a Challenge Cup in a row, we never lost one and now we’ve lost the last two.

“So hopefully the lads will have learned from the last one and will go out and do the business.

“The lads are doing brilliantly. To get the result against Toulouse like that, I know a lot of people thought it wasn’t going to be a similar scoreline to last year, I saw a few people say particularly that it wouldn’t be and so for the lads to go out and do that is remarkable.

“Toulouse would have come here better prepared after being beaten in a couple of previous semi-finals so to do it again is great for the lads.”

Meanwhile, Munster have been boosted for their URC quarter-final against Glasgow with the news that Tadhg Beirne is fit and available. However, Keith Earls’ season is over after he suffered a grade three groin strain.

Earls is out of contract after the World Cup and may have played his last game for his home province.

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