Johnny Sexton keeps IRFU waiting on decision over future
Leinster announce 21 contract renewals without releasing any details
As Leinster applied the finishing touches to their playing roster for next season without disclosing how long each player has signed for, Johnny Sexton will keep the IRFU waiting on any possible return to Ireland as he sizes up his opportunities in France.
Sexton has already been approached by his club Racing Metro to sign a longer deal with them but has told them to wait until the season is completed before he makes a decision on whether to extend his stay in France.
The Irish outhalf originally signed with the star-studded Parisian cast for two years and has almost completed one year. But even before the season has ended Racing have asked him to remain with them beyond his original deal.
This would rule out any plans the IRFU, who believe it would be better if he was based in Ireland, had of coaxing the outhalf back in the short term.
In an interview with Second Captains on irishtimes.com, Sexton said yesterday that his decision will be made in the summer and it will be based on his family needs and the considerations of a baby on the way. With Racing putting some pressure on him to begin discussions, the IRFU, if they are to match the conditions of the wealthy French club, will have to become involved in the bartering over the coming weeks and months.
Ronan O’Gara, the kicking coach at the club has agreed a further two-year stay in Paris, ruling out in the short term any move to the backroom in Munster with his former team-mate, and soon to be coach, Anthony Foley.
“They (Racing Metro) are keen to sort of get talking now and I just said let’s wait until the end of the season,” said Sexton. “It’s a family decision now. We’ve got a baby on the way, me and Laura and that will very much be lets see how that goes with having a kid here and not having grandparents and aunties and uncles look after it . . . we just have to see how that goes for the next few months. Then we’ll see what the options are.
“From a professional point of view things are still much better here. There’s still a long way to go and there’s still some frustration.
“Some days it’s great and you love it, the lifestyle and things but there are massive things you miss from home. There’s a lot of rugby to be played. The Argentina tour as well . . . when everything settles down in the summer I’ll start to think about it. It’s tough not to think about it though. It does occupy a lot of your time thinking about whether you’ll go home or whether you’ll stay. But I’ll wait to see what the options are.”
In Leinster several of the main contracts had already been agreed with Rob Kearney and Mike Ross signed until 2015, Sean O’Brien to 2016 and Jamie Heaslip to 2017. Others such as Ian Madigan, Dave Kearney, Gordon D’Arcy, Issac Boss, Eoin Reddan and Rhys Ruddock had signed two-year contracts in 2012 and they continue to remain at the club.
Gordon D’Arcy’s 2012 contract was also at an end and, while Leinster have not disclosed how long his new deal is, industry sources say it’s likely that he looked for a one plus one, which is one year and the option of a second. That or a straight two-year deal.
The retirement of Brian O’Driscoll would have strengthened 34-year-old D’Arcy’s hand and although there is cover in the centre positions with players like Noel Reid coming through, Brendan Macken and Luke Fitzgerald, if D’Arcy feels a spring in his step after next year’s World Cup, Leinster may want him to continue playing.
Both prop Cian Healy and secondrow Mike McCarthy had agreed three-year deals in 2013, Healy’s a national contract, while Fitzgerald’s name does not appear on the list. The Irish utility back signed a two year contract in 2013.
In all Leinster have confirmed that 21 players have signed new contracts to continue playing with the province next season and beyond including former Ireland under-18 international prop Sean McCarthy.The 23-year-old, loosehead prop, previously played for Pertemps Bees and Worcester Warriors.
Fergus McFadden progressed well from the knee injury he picked up in the Heineken Cup loss away to Toulon this week and it’s not yet known if he will play at the weekend against Edinburgh. However Luke Fitzgerald is not in contention with an ongoing injury.
Eoin Reddan took part in training but is still on a modified training programme and continues to make progress with his shoulder injury.
Leinster contract renewals
Michael Bent (prop), Isaac Boss (scrumhalf), Sam Coghlan-Murray (wing), Jack Conan (number eight), Gordon D’Arcy (centre), Tom Denton (secondrow), Aaron Dundon (hooker), Darragh Fanning (wing), Tadhg Furlong (tighthead prop), Jamie Heaslip (number eight), Shane Jennings (flanker), Dave Kearney (wing), Jack McGrath (loosehead prop), Luke McGrath (scrumhalf), Martin Moore (tighthead prop), Sean O’Brien (flanker/number eight), Colm O’Shea (centre), Eoin Reddan (scrumhalf), Noel Reid (centre), Rhys Ruddock (flanker/number eight), James Tracy (hooker).
New signing: Sean McCarthy (loosehead prop, Jersey RFC).