Jonathan Sexton set to play first match for Racing Metro
Outhalf gearing up for the start of the French Top 14 Championship next week
Jonathan Sexton training with Racing Metro. The Ireland outhalf will make his first start for his new club against Harlequins in Geneva this evening. photograph: inpho/presse sports
Jonathan Sexton is set to play his first match for Racing Metro 92 in a pre-season friendly against Harlequins in Geneva this evening (5pm).
It is just over a month since the Irish international helped the British and Irish Lions to a 2-1 Test series victory over Australia. In the interim he got married and then headed for Paris to hook up with his team-mates for pre-season training.
While his fellow Irish Lions tourists returned to begin their pre-seasons with their respective provinces last Monday – Paul O’Connell is the exception as he is still on honeymoon – and will undergo a seven-week programme before they’ll see any game time, Sexton is gearing up for the start of the French Top 14 Championship on Saturday, August 17th.
The Parisian club open their campaign with a ‘home’ game against Brive tomorrow week, although the match won’t be played in Paris but rather in La Rochelle. The reason behind this is that many Parisians are still on holiday and Racing Metro thought they’d get more support in the resort town.
It’s hardly a surprise that the former Leinster outhalf has been asked to tog out in a competitive fixture this early. It’s nothing to do with the size of the two-year contract he signed and everything to do with allowing him time to acclimatise in the role of playmaker with his new team-mates.
While Sexton enjoyed a short break his fellow Irish internationals who toured with the Lions won’t return to competitive fare until close to the end of next month. The most likely comeback date is the RaboDirect Pro 12 programme on the weekend of September 27th and 28th.
Ulster host Benetton Treviso, Leinster are at home to Cardiff Blues while Munster will entertain the Dragons. The opening round of matches in this season’s Heineken Cup, begin on Friday, October 11th.
Racing Metro have also included Sexton’s Lion’s team-mate and Welsh international flanker Dan Lydiate – Jamie Roberts is not listed – and summer signings, the former Northampton Saints pair of Soane Tonga’uiha and Brian Mujati in the extended squad for the game against Harlequins.
Connacht are also in action in France tonight, taking on French Top 14 champions, Castres Olympique in a pre-season friendly in Lacaune. The Irish province’s new coach Pat Lam took a 37-man squad to France last Monday for a week long training camp. After tonight’s game against the French club, who are in Leinster’s pool in the European Cup, Connacht will train tomorrow and Sunday, before arriving back home in the early hours of Monday morning.
Even though Michael Swift and Frank Murphy have been named in the travelling party they won’t be taking any part in tonight’s game as they are rehabilitating from injury.
Leinster have an open training session in Cill Dara rugby club today (noon) but one player who won’t be present is their new signing, Springbok international Zane Kirchner. He paid a fleeting visit to Dublin during the week to look at amongst other things, accommodation, but has returned to play for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.