Sexton set for Leinster return

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton is expected to return to former club Leinster from French Top 14 club Racing Metro when his contract expires next year.

The 29-year-old is thought to have been offered fresh terms with the Paris club but is understood to be poised to sign a four-year deal with the club he began his professional career with.

European and Top 14 champions Toulon were also understood to be interested in securing the services of the Ireland and Lions No 10.

But the Dubliner was thought to favour a return to his homeland after previously admitting to struggling to settle to life in France following his move there last year.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is believed to be delighted by Sexton's decision to return to Leinster having previously expressed concerns he was being overworked at Racing.

Sexton was forced to play 13 matches in 12 weeks last season, during which time he suffered a hamstring injury which threatened his involvement in Ireland's autumn Test series.

The 45-cap fly-half remains Ireland's sole front-line star plying his trade abroad. Last year, the IRFU managed to tie down a number of players to new contracts amid interest from France.

Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Conor Murray, Donnacha Ryan and Paul O'Connell were among the players that committed themselves to staying in Ireland.

Leinster's Rob Kearney and Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony are among those whose contracts expire next season but the IRFU will be hoping Sexton's anticipated return will convince them to stay put.