Leinster and Lions forwards coach Robin McBryde has downplayed the significance of Johnny Sexton’s recent injuries ahead of the tour to South Africa.
Sexton has had limited game time since the conclusion of the Six Nations, having picked up injuries in Leinster’s Pro14 final against Munster as well as the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Exeter Chiefs.
The Leinster captain has been ruled out of the Champions Cup semi-final against La Rochelle, as he is still being assessed for a head injury sustained against Exeter.
🔊 Leo Cullen has issued an injury update ahead of the @ChampionsCup game on Sunday against La Rochelle
Check out the full update 👇
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) April 27, 2021
McBryde was speaking at a Leinster press conference on Tuesday, and while Sexton hasn’t played much rugby in April, the Welshman doesn’t believe it will make a notable difference to his chances of touring with the Lions.
“I think he’s got enough time and he’s got enough experience. He proved that in the Six Nations, especially in the England game, he has got a bit of time on his side,” McBryde said.
“It’s obviously not my area but I’m sure that the rest of the Lions coaches would be looking at it and just assessing the situation. They’ve worked with Johnny before on the other Lions trips. They know what he offers.
“There’s never an ideal time to get an injury, especially in this year but I think everybody knows what Johnny is all about, the fact he’s been there for so long, a proven match-winner in big matches. People know him well enough.”
‘It’s not too late for anybody to push their case.’
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will announce his squad next Thursday, meaning the weekend’s European semi-finals are the last opportunity for a select few players to stake their claims.
While it’s probably safe to assume that many decisions in regards to selection are all but made, McBryde sees Leinster’s game against La Rochelle as a big opportunity for players to book a place on the tour to South Africa.
“It’s not too late for anybody to push their case forward. The amount of meaningful games is getting few and far between, this being one of the bigger games of course it’s going to count,” McBryde explained.
“You’re coming up against a big physical pack, something like the threats South Africa are going to pose with a very dynamic, athletic back-row. It’s a similar type of challenge.
“The way that they defend the lineout is similar, they sit really deep so there are quite a few similarities. It’s definitely an opportunity.”