Tuesday 6 December 2016

Jonny Sexton on 'missing' Ronan O'Gara, Paul O'Connell's 'ideal' Toulon move and Leo Cullen

Published 19/08/2015 | 21:23

Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton was at Dublin Airport today to encourage Irish rugby fans to make the smart choice and fly with Aer Lingus as they travel to support the Ireland team. Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton was at Dublin Airport today to encourage Irish rugby fans to make the smart choice and fly with Aer Lingus as they travel to support the Ireland team. Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton believes the nature of Paul O'Connell's move to France will be one that Irish players could replicate in the future.

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Sexton moved to Racing Metro at 28 and in the prime of his career whereas O'Connell will be 36 by the time he lines out for Toulon.

While Sexton had to deal with travelling for international duties and having medical teams from club and country arguing over his fitness, the Limerick lock can focus solely on his Top 14 career.

The flyhalf believes O'Connell has created a template that other Irish players could follow.

"I am going to miss certain things about Paris. Certain places in the city and certain people. We're delighted to be home and it's where I've always wanted to be... playing for Leinster and being looked after under the IRFU," he told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"I made no secret of that.

"I think the way Paul is doing it is ideal. He'll finish up with Ireland and then he can go over to France and focus fully on Toulon.

"He'll have blocks of time when he'll be off, he won't have to travel back for Six Nations games, he won't have to worry about being fit enough for certain games.

"A lot of players might follow suit."

Ronan O'Gara will remain in France this year and work with All Black legend Dan Carter but Sexton expects him to return home soon.

"We're missing each other but he's there for another year and I think his idea will be to come home and coach somewhere in Ireland," he added.

The big news surrounding Leinster today was the announcement that Leo Cullen is Leinster's new head coach and it's an appointment which pleases the returning Sexton.

"It's great news. It's been rumoured for the past few weeks that he was going to take over," he said.

"I think it's a great decision. No one knows the place better than he does and he's been such a great captain over the years.

"He had that season to learn from and now he's the head man and I think he'll do a great job and from what I've heard he's made a great start.

"There is something positive about someone new coming into the environment and bring some new ideas.

"Leo spent a few weeks in New Zealand before he became forwards coach and I'm sure there are tings he was holding back because he wasn't the head man.

"There is still scope for someone new to come into the environment below Leo."

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