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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 2 September, 2014

Joe Schmidt: ‘It would be great to have Jonny Sexton back in the country’

The Ireland coach feels an imminent return for the out-half is unlikely, however.

Joe Schmidt at this morning's press briefing.
Joe Schmidt at this morning's press briefing.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt has declared ‘it would be great to have Jonathan Sexton back in the country’. Schmidt was speaking at a post-Six Nations media briefing at the Aviva Stadium this morning and raised the spectre of Sexton returning to Ireland next season.

Sexton, speaking on 2FM’s Game On last night, appeared to put an end to the speculation once and for all as, addressing the speculation of a summer move, he declared. “That’s not going to happen.”

Schmidt, while reopening the debate somewhat, believes Sexton’s integrity will see him remain in Paris for at least another season. “One of the problems with that,” said Schmidt, “is that Jonny is pretty much a man of his word. He’s committed to Racing and it would be really hard to see him coming out of there.”

The New Zealander added, “If there was a chance [of a return], I’d be delighted.”

Joe Schmidt and Jonathan Sexton

Sexton and Schmidt discuss tactics in training.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Schmidt added that he has spoken with Racing coach Laurent Labit about engendering a closer working relationship next season. Game management for the out-half, who had two and a half weeks off [including a wedding and honeymoon] after the Lions Tour, is key.

“Jonny playing 13 games in 12 weeks at the start of the season was not Racing Métro’s intent,” said Schmidt. “They have the same priority as us in making sure Jonny is well looked after.”

“Unless Racing were very interested in the idea [of letting him go]… I’m not sure how they would be. They’ve been very happy with Jonny and he’s done a good job for them.”

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