Updated: Friday, 05 September 2014 01:59 | By Agence France-Presse

Sexton quits Racing to return to Leinster

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton will quit Racing-Metro and return to Leinster at the end of the season, he announced on Thursday.


Sexton quits Racing to return to Leinster

Racing-Metro's fly half Jonathan Sexton reacts during a French Top 14 rugby union match against Union Bordeaux-Begles on August 23, 2014 in Bordeaux, France - by Nicolas Tucat

The Dublin-born 29-year-old arrived at Racing just over a year ago on a reported 700,000-euros-a-year deal but he said he and his wife miss Ireland.

He has signed a four-year deal with his home province Leinster where he will be ideally placed to prepare for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"I've made a decision for my family. Since the birth of my son it's been harder for my wife, for me and for our family in Ireland," said Sexton in excellent French despite only arriving in Paris just over a year ago.

"We miss them a lot more and they miss us.

"That's the first reason and the second is for my international career.

"It's very difficult to do both (French club career and Irish international career) together. During last season's Six Nations it was difficult to go to Ireland for one match and then back here for a match.

"I missed the Irish training camp (between matches). I'm the only (Ireland) player who plays in France, that's an extra pressure on my shoulders.

"I spoke to the coaches (Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit) and they understand. I have great relationships with the president (Jacky Lorenzetti), the coaches and everyone in the club."

Lorenzetti said he sympathised with the player who was brought to the club amidst much pomp and fanfare.

"For us it's disappointing because he's a good guy and we all like him, the coaches and fans," he said.

"It's a double loss because he's an excellent player. It's disappointing but that's life, we understand Jonny's decision.

"We've still got a year ahead (this season) and we hope Jonny will go back with his hands full (of trophies)."

Speculation back in Ireland suggested Sexton had been in touch in Racing's Top 14 rivals and European champions Toulon but the outside half denied that.

"Racing are my French club now, that's important. I also want to stress that I never spoke with another French club," he said.

"It's important for me to say that because I've got a lot of respect for everyone here, I've never spoken with Toulon as some Irish journalists wrote last week."

But most of all, Sexton revealed that it was the lure of a return to his true love that had proved too much to resist.

"(Leinster) are my Irish club," he said before joking that Racing's kicking coach Ronan O'Gara, the former fly-half of Leinster's bitter domestic rivals Munster, would be joining him in Dublin.

"I spent lots of good years with Leinster, they're my Irish team and it's a club close to my heart.

"It was a difficult decision to quit Racing but easy to sign for Leinster."

The Irish Rugby Union are rumoured to be helping Leinster financially to make the deal happen and some have suggested they matched Racing's financial offer.

But Lorenzetti said the Parisians had not discussed figures with Sexton, who insisted money played no part in his decision.

"I had an option for four years (at Racing), it was a good contract but I didn't just come here for the money and I'm not going back to Ireland for money," he said.

"It (his Leinster contract) is probably a lot less, for sure, but for me my family is the most important thing, and also my international career is very important for me."

Sexton is currently nursing a broken jaw sustained in last weekend's Top 14 win over Toulon.

Sexton, who came off in the 50th minute of Saturday's 17-10 victory over the French champions, is due to miss Racing's four coming Top 14 games.

But he should be fit in time for the start of his team's European Cup campaign against Northampton on October 18.

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