Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton has revealed that he would have preferred to remain at the province next season.
Sexton will join Racing Metro in the summer after failing to agree a new contract with the IRFU, but he believes he could have thrashed out a deal if he had been given the chance to sit down with Leinster and not the governing body.
The 27-year-old told the Irish Examiner: "Of course, yeah. Leinster still is a massive part of my life, not just my career but my personal life as well.
"A lot of my best friends are guys that I have been playing rugby with since I was 15 or 16. It was never between me and Leinster.
"If me and Leinster sat down I'm sure I would be there next year but that's not the way it works.
"That's unfortunate but, listen, once these next three (Leinster) games are finished and the small matter of a Lions tour is over, I can start to get excited about a new challenge in my life."
Sexton, who is strongly tipped to start at fly-half for the Lions' first Test against Australia on 22 June, is confident he will have no problems settling in at Racing Metro.
"The club have been great in helping me get organised," he said. "I know a good few of the players and it's very exciting the quality of players they have signed for next year.
"There's a lot of English-speaking guys which will help me settle in, but I am determined to make an impression on the French guys as well."
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