Sexton, Henshaw and Rob Kearney ruled out of Toulouse game
Leinster head into crunch Champions Cup clash with significantly weakened backline
Johnny Sexton has been ruled out of Leinster’s crunch Champions Cup clash with Toulouse. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
The Irish Times has learned that all three Ireland internationals will not feature in the Champions Cup round five tie at the RDS (kick-off 1.0pm).
Sexton has not played since being replaced on the hour mark of the defeat to Munster on December 29th, when he immediately applied ice to his leg. Leinster coach Leo Cullen stated that the substitution was pre-planned to expose third-choice outhalf Ciarán Frawley to the pressure of closing out a game in Thomond Park.
Henshaw, who returned to training this week despite being previously ruled out until mid-February with a hamstring injury sustained in the warm-up before the Argentina game in November, will also be held off.
Kearney is the most surprising exclusion as the Ireland fullback returned from injury, having missed the round four win over Bath in December, to play 64 minutes against Ulster last Saturday.
As a result, Leinster go into the biggest game of their season and Pool 1 decider with a significantly weakened backline.
Ross Byrne is expected to start at outhalf beside Rory O’Loughlin, who featured at 12 against Bath, although the in-form Conor O’Brien is an option after being registered for Europe.
Vice captain Rhys Ruddock is primed to lead the team in Sexton’s absence with Scott Fardy to start at secondrow if Devin Toner’s ankle problem has not healed.
Leinster (possible): J Larmour; A Byrne, G Ringrose, R O’Loughlin, B Daly; R Byrne, L McGrath; C Healy, S Cronin, T Furlong; S Fardy, J Ryan; R Ruddock (capt), D Leavy/J van der Flier, J Conan.