Leinster and Ireland await Monday scan on Johnny Sexton's injured knee
The 34-year-old wrenched his knee on the Franklin's Gardens turf during his side's latest Champions Cup win.
As play raged on inside the Northampton Saints 22, Johnny Sexton appeared to be in some discomfort. The Leinster outhalf had been hit hard with a couple of borderline late tackles in the first half, and had taken a knee at one stage, but he re-emerged for the second 40 determined to put Saints to bed.
Leinster were 19-16 ahead but had already scored three tries and fancied nabbing that try-scoring bonus point early. Last season's Champions Cup runners up came into Saturday's fixture on an 11-game winning streak that stretches back to the Guinness PRO14 semi-final. Confidence is coursing through them.
As they pressed for that fourth try, Sexton was caught in the tackle by Saints centre Matt Proctor but not before he got his pass away to Jordan Larmour. Slow motion replays showed Sexton's knee hyper-extending before his other leg got caught in the turf as he crumpled over,
He was able to limp off the field of play as Ross Byrne, his replacement, jogged on to line up a conversion from Cian Healy's try. The bonus point had been secured but at a cost. The only silver lining, regarding Sexton, was that a stretcher had not been required.
Leinster went on to get three more tries, including one for Byrne, as they won out 43-16 against the Premiership league leaders. Following the match, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen admitted Sexton was feeling "uncomfortable" after the game.
The likelihood is that Leinster will wait until Sexton is home and the swelling around his knee has reduced somewhat. That should mean a Monday scan to assess the injury. He is set to miss out on the return game against Saints, next Saturday, and Leinster will hope he is not a long-term casualty.
Should the scan reveal significant damage, it would throw up obvious issues to Leinster and Ireland. Ross Byrne has proved himself time and again in Leinster's No.10 jersey and Ciarán Frawley, who travelled to Northampton with the squad on Saturday, and Ireland U20 star Harry Byrne would be next in line.
For Ireland, it is not so clear-cut. Joey Carbery has not played since the World Cup while Jack Carty was on the bench for Connacht's last two games, although he starts against Gloucester this afternoon. Ross Byrne is another option for incoming Ireland head coach Andy Farrell while Billy Burns looks in good nick for Ulster this season.
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Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble are joined in the House of Rugby studio by Jerry Flannery as they look back on the Guinness PRO14 action, preview the Champions Cup and select an underrated XV.