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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 23 October, 2014

Jonny Sexton on the bench for Racing Metro’s Top 14 tie

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will be relieved that Sexton has only been selected as a replacement.

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

JONNY SEXTON HAS been named on the bench for Racing Metro’s Top 14 clash with Biarritz tomorrow evening.

The decision by the Parisian club not to start the Ireland out-half will come as some relief to Joe Schmidt, who is hoping that Sexton will be fresh enough to start the first November test against Samoa in just over a week.

As expected, Jonathan Wisniewski is the man who gets the nod in the number 10 shirt for Racing tomorrow, and Schmidt’s next hope will be that Sexton is not called upon to play at any stage against the Basque side. Biarritz are struggling badly in the Top 14 this season and find themselves bottom of the league with just one win in 10 games.

The question may be asked why Racing even bothered demanding Sexton’s return to France, having been in camp with the Ireland squad all week at Carton House. However, Racing are currently sitting eighth in the table and cannot afford a slip up against Biarritz as they aim to climb into the play-off places.

It was concerning to hear Schmidt admit that Sexton had been “flat” at the start of the training week with Ireland, and he has already made 10 league appearances for Racing in the league this season; the same amount as he made over the course of the entire 2012/13 campaign with Leinster. Add in two full Heineken Cup games and it’s easy to see why Sexton is flagging at this early stage.

The fact that he took just three weeks rest after the Lions tour now looks like a poor decision. There may be more eyes than usual following Racing’s game in the Top 14 tomorrow evening, but for once Irish eyes will be hoping that Sexton has no impact on the game whatsoever.

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