Gordon D’Arcy doesn’t believe that Leinster captain Johnny Sexton will struggle in this weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final with Toulouse due to a lack of game time.
The World Player of the Year hasn’t featured for Leinster since their 26-17 loss to Munster in December and has only 15 games to his name this season, lasting the full 80 minutes on just two occasions.
He was ruled out of their quarter-final against Ulster due to “tightness” last month but he will make his long-awaited return to the Leinster jersey in Sunday’s pivotal clash.
Former teammate, D’Arcy, believes that Sexton’s experience will allow him to fit into the Leinster set-up seamlessly.
“Johnny’s at that great stage in rugby where he understands it completely. The body hasn’t given up on him yet, he understands the game in that when you’re younger in your career, you need to get into the games to get into the flow of things and up to speed.
“His lack of game time doesn’t concern me. He’s one of those players that gives you that psychological boost and takes a little bit away from the opposition. It’s a real boost for Leinster.
“It’s his first game since the Six Nations so he’ll want to leave a mark on that game. When he gets into that kind of headspace he’s a handful to deal with.
“For Johnny, because you’re pulling the strings, it’s not as important that you get into a game, it’s more important that he’s on the training field and spending time with players and then pulling the strings when he comes back in.”
Sexton’s understudy, Ross Byrne, brilliantly stepped up in his absence against Ulster, scoring 16 points including a first-half try. While he insists that Sexton is the right man to face Toulouse, D’Arcy continues to be impressed by the 24-year-old.
“They’re two out-halves in very different stages of their career. Ross is an accomplished out-half, he just doesn’t have the experience that Johnny has.
“He’s getting incredible experience at the moment, the tougher games that he’s been part of but maybe not won are probably more valuable to him at this stage in his career.
“You want Johnny in this game and then you take huge comfort in the fact that you have Ross Byrne directly underneath him.”