Sexton, Kearney and Henshaw all ruled out; Andy Murray to retire

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Andy Murray may retire after the Australian Open, with the severe pain from his troublesome right hip having become almost unbearable for him to play on, the former world number one said on Friday (January 11).

Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney and Robbie Henshaw will all miss Leinster’s potentially season defining Champions Cup clash with Toulouse on Saturday. 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. Jordan Larmour will return at fullback. Meanwhile Munster take on Gloucester at Kingsholm Stadium tonight, and with each of the four protagonists in their pool still in the race, the pressure is on. Gerry Thornley writes in his preview: “Munster were ruffled in Castres, but appeared to apply those lessons to good effect against Leinster and Connacht. If they keep their cool, and Carbery nails his kicks, they can keep the scoreboard ticking sufficiently to ride this one out.”

At a tearful press conference ahead of the Australian Open, Andy Murray laid bare the effects of the pain in his right hip that has dogged him for more than 18 months. While hoping to able to go out on home soil at Wimbledon in the summer, he conceded Monday’s match against Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round in Melbourne could be his last. The draw for the first Grand Slam of the season was made yesterday and Roger Federer will start his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles next week against unseeded Uzbek Denis Istomin.

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