Sexton deal looks done and dusted despite owner Lorenzetti's denials
RUGBY:Indications that Jonathan Sexton would be playing his club rugby with Racing Metro from next August have strengthened after sources revealed the Leinster and Ireland outhalf signed a “pre contract” with Racing Metro on Saturday, even though the Paris-based club’s benefactor and president, Jacky Lorenzetti, again strongly denied this over the weekend.
Additional guarantees regarding release for international duty reputedly enabled Sexton to complete his proposed two-year contract with Racing. The delay in signing a deal was due to Sexton and his agent Fintan Drury insisting on extra release days for duty with Ireland, over and above IRB regulations, which they apparently achieved.
Sexton is due to be married after the Lions tour in July and the player himself is said to be relocating to Paris immediately after his honeymoon ahead of the start of the Top 14 season in mid-August. This was in the wake of the IRFU’s announcement on Friday that Sexton had informed them he would not be accepting their offer of a two-year deal.
French clubs are not allowed to announce new signings before April 15th, although they are permitted to sign players before then. So it is that Racing are widely reported to have acquired the Welsh pair of Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate, as well as Northampton props Soane Tonga’uiha and Brian Mujati, South African lock Juande Kruger, Wenceslas Lauret (Biarritz), Adrien Planté (Perpignan), Marc Andreu (Castres) and Davit Khinchagishvili (Brive), not to mention the Castres coaches Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers.
Lorenzetti and Racing have not denied any of those acquisitions for next season, yet curiously, even in the light of the IRFU’s announcement and reports that Sexton had signed a deal, the Racing president was quoted in L’Equipe yesterday as saying “Ce sont des conneries” (“This is bullshit”)
“I don’t deny that there are some contacts,” Lorenzetti was also quoted as saying, “but the financial conditions are not there yet.”
L’Equipe also wrote: “According to our information Jonathan Sexton met the President of Racing Metro 92 at Plessis Robinson, in a Paris suburb, the club’s new office headquarters. But the two parties could not come to an agreement, in particular on the salary of the Leinster player, who is asking for €750,000 per year. Sexton, for his part, indicates he’ll play in the Top 14 next season ‘in blue, in yellow or in red’ he confided to one of his associates close to him.”
The French sports daily thus speculated that Clermont, Toulouse or Toulon could yet enter the fray, and that Racing may re-enter the equation in a couple of weeks’ time for a salary in the region of €500,000.
Trimble loses out
Sexton, needless to say, is one of the 33 players named in an Ireland training squad which convened last night at their Carton House base in readiness for next Saturday’s RBS Six Nations opener away to Wales.
The biggest loser is Andrew Trimble, who along with James Coughlan and Tommy O’Donnell was not amongst the 11 players involved in the Ireland Wolfhounds’ defeat to the England Saxons on Friday night who were added to the 22 in camp last week. They are David Kilcoyne, Tom Court, Michael Bent, Declan Fitzpatrick, Mike Sherry, Davin Toner, Iain Henderson, Kevin McLaughlin, Paddy Jackson, Dave McSharry and Luke Fitzgerald.
Despite picking up “minor knocks” in the Sportsground, both Jackson and McSharry were expected to train with the rest of the squad today. While this provides further investment in McSharry and confirms Jackson’s status as next in line to Sexton and Ronan O’Gara, beyond two of the props, it’s difficult to see who else of the aforementioned 11 on A duty will make the match-day 23 in Cardiff.After three encouraging outings on the comeback trail, the Six Nations opener may have come too soon for Fitzgerald, who appears to be behind Keith Earls, Craig Gilroy and Fergus McFadden in the pecking order.
Ireland Training Squad (33): M Bent (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), G D’Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), C Gilroy (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), C Henry (Ulster), P Jackson (Ulster), R Kearney (Leinster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), C Murray (Munster), M McCarthy (Connacht), K McLaughlin (Leinster), F McFadden (Leinster), D McSharry (Connacht), S O’Brien (Leinster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster), R O’Gara (Munster), P O’Mahony (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), M Ross (Leinster, D Ryan (MUnster), J Sexton (Leinster), M Sherry (Munster), D Toner (Leinster), S Zebo (Munster).