The Irish half will be available for the Six Nations despite undergoing cheekbone surgery

    Source: Alamy

Source: Alamy

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen insists Johnny Sexton’s injury is “reasonably minor” and half are on track to return for the Six Nations campaign in Ireland.

The playmaker suffered a cheekbone injury after a head-to-head clash with Connacht’s Jarrad Butler on New Year’s Day.

Sexton underwent surgery to rectify the problem, putting his participation in the Six Nations in question, but Cullen provided a positive update regarding his affected axle.

No time frame

While no timeline has been set for his return as Leinster’s Champions Cup clashes with Gloucester too soon for the 37-year-old, Sexton is making good progress.

“Johnny Sexton will not be showing up next week. You’re only talking about weeks, it all depends on how it settles down and how it heals,” Cullen told reporters.

“It’s quite small, a few weeks, but next weekend will be way too soon. I thought Harry Byrne was good in his first start of the season and it’s good that he made it through 55 minutes (against the Ospreys).

“Ross Byrne came in after not being involved last weekend because Jonny was playing. We started three different No. 10s in our last three matches and similarly with No. 9.

“It’s about giving people a real chance and making sure everyone is ready for the big games when they’re called. That’s what we’ve been focusing on for the last three weeks and we were especially happy to have two big victories away in Munster and here.

Despite Sexton’s absence, Leinster maintained their winning streak this season after beating the Ospreys 24-19 on Saturday.

In the 2022/23 season, it was 14 undefeated for the Irish province in both the United Rugby Championship and the Champions Cup.

Battles with Scrum

However, they faltered in the scrum against the Welsh region, which is something they need to improve on as they head to Kingsholm this weekend.

“We knew this was going to happen and that we would be pushed. They’re in good shape and have a strong team,” Cullen added.

“Toby Booth’s teams will always be strong around a set piece, especially the scrum, so it was a really good hit for us.

“Going to Kingsholm will be a completely different challenge, although there are some similarities. They’re a Premiership side that puts a lot of emphasis on set-pieces, although Gloucester puts more emphasis on lane and maul play – that’s their big weapon.

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