Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster has revealed Johnny Sexton’s fitness will be “managed” for the remainder of the season as he looks to secure a place on this summer’s British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
The Ireland fly-half missed the start of this year’s Six Nations campaign because of a calf injury and took some heavy knocks in a finale that saw England denied a Grand Slam by defeat in Dublin — but Lancaster is positive Sexton can enjoy a productive climax to the season.
Following the news the 31-year-old will start Saturday’s Champions Cup quarterfinal against Wasps, Lancaster said: “Johnny is available. He’s not had a great run of games this season, but when he has played he’s been excellent, particularly in Europe.
The final round of the Six Nations provided the last chance in international colours for British & Irish Lions candidates to impress Warren Gatland before he names his squad to tour New Zealand.
Two French referees and a South African will take charge of the British and Irish Lions’ Tests against world champions New Zealand this summer.
“He’s just been a bit unlucky with minor injuries — they’ve been nothing major and hopefully he’ll get a decent run now until the end of the season. He’ll be managed over the next few weeks. Johnny won’t play every match but he’s certainly fit and available for this one.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say he’ll be first choice for the Lions because there’s a long way to go. He was frustrated to miss the first two Six Nations games because of the calf injury.
“To play as well as he did in the games that he did play, he has to be contention for the Lions squad, not just because of his talent but because of his experience as well.”
Lancaster also confirmed No. 8 Jamie Heaslip and fullback Rob Kearney are expected to return from respective back and knee injuries before the season is out.
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/19022166/johnny-sexton-fitness-managed-ahead-lions-tour
Lancaster plots Sexton route to Lions tour
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