Scrummy bestseller in the making: Johnny Sexton autobiography to be published after he leads Ireland into World Cup and then hangs up boots

Johnny Sexton has shown he can lead Ireland to glory. Photo: Sportsfile

Niamh Horan

Ireland rugby captain Johnny Sexton is expected to produce one of the biggest-selling Irish books of the decade, which he’ll be sitting down to write after his planned retirement from the game following the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Sexton, capped 113 times, has signed a six-figure deal for his autobiography with Penguin Sandycove.

The former World Player of the Year, who led Ireland to a Grand Slam last week, will turn 38 in July — but he’s still regarded as Ireland’s most influential and irreplaceable player.

However, with the Rugby World Cup not concluding until October 28 — and with world number-one ranked Ireland in with a strong chance of making the final weekend of the tournament — Sexton’s book is not expected to be published until after his retirement, in September or October of 2024.

The book is being co-written with rugby journalist Peter O’Reilly, who collaborated with Sexton on an earlier book, Becoming a Lion, in 2013.

The story of Irish rugby’s most important player of the last decade is certain to top the bestseller lists. But should he lead Ireland to a World Cup triumph, sales would get a huge lift.

The publishers are hopeful that sales of Sexton’s story will rival those of the two biggest-selling Irish sports books of the last decade — the autobiographies of his former Ireland team-mates Brian O’Driscoll (in 2014) and Paul O’Connell (in 2016).

Both were published by Penguin, which also released the best-selling memoir of former Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt, in 2019.

Until recently, O’Connell’s book, The Battle, held the record for the most books sold in a single week since records began 20 years ago, with 17,800 copies. That was topped earlier this year by Prince Harry’s Spare which sold 20,584.