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Leinster rest Sexton due to niggle, Itoje & Hogg set for returns

Johnny Sexton has been left out of Leinster’s team for the European Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster due to a “little niggle”, Leo Cullen has confirmed.

World Player of the Year Sexton endured a disappointing end to the Six Nations with Ireland as he struggled in the final-round defeat to Grand Slam winners Wales.

And the fly-half will sit out his club’s clash with Ulster on Saturday, with Leinster head coach Cullen quoted by the Irish Independent as saying: “He just had a bit of tightness this week. He’s okay. It’s a little niggle, somewhere on his leg. It’s prudent to rest him because we have some big games to come.”

Ross Byrne will take the number 10 jersey in Sexton’s absence, while the depth of Leinster’s squad is epitomised by Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath being left out of the matchday 23.

“It’s unfair to talk about guys missing out. It’s about a squad of players,” said Cullen, while confirming Kearney was available for selection. “This is the group we are and the way we want it to be. It’s the nature of the business, investing in the young players.”

Another Ireland international, Iain Henderson, has been passed fit following a knee injury in a boost to Ulster, while Maro Itoje and Stuart Hogg will make their respective returns in Saracens’ meeting with Glasgow Warriors.

Itoje has not played since February 2, when he hurt his knee in England’s opening Six Nations match against Ireland.

Hogg missed the majority of the same tournament with a shoulder problem, after making an early exit from Scotland’s clash with Ireland on February 9.

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