Johnny Sexton turns down big money offer from Lyon
Top 14 club wanted to bring Sexton back to France at end of this season
Johnny Sexton wants to see out his career with Leinster and Ireland. Photograph: Tommy Dickson
The Leinster and Irish outhalf has another year remaining on his current IRFU central contract, taking him up to the end of the 2020-21 season, and Irish Times has learned he was not of a mind to sever that existing deal.
Lyon are looking to sign an outhalf and the 2018 World Player of the Year was their preferred option, which has led to reports in the French media linking Sexton with a move to the club.
To that end, Lyon were reportedly keen to explore the possibility of him severing his current deal but it is believed that the 34-year-old, who spent two seasons with Racing 92 in Paris from 2013 to 2015, would ideally like to see out his career with Leinster and Ireland, and most likely beyond 2021 as well.
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Sexton is currently sidelined due to the medial ligament injury he sustained in Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup win over Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens last Saturday week. However, despite reports to the contrary, Sexton and his medical advisors also remain confident that he will be fit for Ireland’s opening Six Nations game against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on February 1st.
The prognosis is for a six-to-eight week recovery period, meaning the Leinster captain should be fit for Andy Farrell’s first game as head coach.
The most conservative estimate, ie eight weeks, would mean Sexton would fit for the Scottish game without playing for Leinster in the interim. But he has shown his ability to return to test rugby after lengthy absences before, most obviously when sidelined for 12 weeks due to concussion during his second season with Racing.
Sexton returned to action in the second round of the 2015 Six Nations, kicking five penalties in Ireland’s 18-11 win over France at the Aviva Stadium and went on to play a pivotal role in the remaining three rounds as Ireland won outright back-to-back titles for the first time since the 1940s.
Alternatively, as has been the case with several other Leinster players who have suffered the same injury, Sexton could recover fully and be fit to play again in five or six weeks.
However, Leinster’s need for Sexton to play in either of their final two European pool games at home to Lyon or away to Benetton has been reduced by them already securing qualification for the quarter-finals after four rounds courtesy of last Saturday’s 50-21 win over Northampton at the Aviva Stadium, albeit they will be keen to ensure a top two seeding for the knockout stages.