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No space for Johnny Sexton in Leinster’s semi-final showdown with Munster

Johnny Sexton

Johnny Sexton has been left out of Leinster’s starting line-up for their crucial PRO14 semi-final clash against Munster on Saturday. 

He has so often been the man for the big occasion for Leinster but will have to make do with a place on the bench, with Ross Byrne selected to start at fly-half for the home side.

Sexton did play in last week’s defeat to Saracens in Newcastle, but coach Leo Cullen has not raised any injuries concerns about his star man.

Six weeks ago Cullen said Josh van der Flier’s season was “probably over” due to the groin injury he suffered on international duty, but the flanker has recovered quicker than expected and will take his place in Leinster’s pack.

Rhys Ruddock comes back in and will lead Leinster out at the RDS Arena, replacing Sean O’Brien, who has now played his final home game for Leinster before moving to London Irish in the off-season.

Jordan Larmour shifts across to fill in at full-back, with Dave Kearney taking his place on the wing.

Munster go into this game in fine form with 17 victories out of their last 22 league outings.

Ireland pair Keith Earls and Joey Carbery have been sidelined since Munster’s European hopes were thwarted by Edinburgh back in March, but return in time for this mammoth match.

Munster replacement Jack O’Donoghue will bring up his ton for Munster if he gets a run out on Saturday.

Saturday’s game is set to be evenly poised – the encounters between these side’s this term have produced a win apiece (Leinster won 32-22 at the Avivia, Munster 26-17 at Thomand Park) with only one point difference between the team’s points tally in their respective conferences.

JAMES JUBERT / GETTY IMAGES

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