Tuesday 20 August 2019

Real Health Podcast: ‘As a rugby player it’s your biggest worry’ - Johnny Sexton on career and health

Johnny Sexton discusses his career, 'gym dread' and retirement

Johnny Sexton talks health and career on Real Health podcast
Johnny Sexton talks health and career on Real Health podcast
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

He may have been a World Player and have 83 caps to his name, but even fly half Johnny Sexton suffers from ‘gym dread’.

The rugby player believes the best part of working out is ‘getting it done’.

“I hate the fitness but I love it when you get it done,” he said.

“Before you hate it, you get nervous, you get butterflies, you think ‘why do I do this?’ but then you do it ….but then after it the feel good factor of exercise you want to do it again.”

Johnny Sexton. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Johnny Sexton. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

As a goal kicker Sexton is under a huge amount of pressure to deliver on the pitch.

Speaking about the focus required when preparing to kick he said; “Some of the best moments of my career I can’t really remember through my own experience.

“I will go and watch it on TV and I see it and think ‘Wow that looks a bit different to how I imagined it was’.”

In regards to dealing with pressure from opposition players, Sexton says it is something he has experienced throughout his career.

Playing on the senior cup team for St Mary’s helped galvanise and prepare him for the future.

“I have dealt with [the pressure] since I was 16. I was part of the senior cup squad for St Mary’s when I was 16 which is under 18s.

“I was a small guy and I had the sixth years… running at me. And I had the coach seeing if I could tackle and live with the big boys…

“You get targeted because you’re the young guy on the team. I have dealt with it through the years.

“At different times it gets heightened, at different times it goes away, it depends who you are playing against. It’s something that’s part of the game.”

He puts his success as a sportsman down to hard work and tenacity.

“I haven’t been blessed with the best genetics or speed but I have just worked hard all my career, and tried to get better and I think if you can do that you’ll get where you want to,” he told Karl Henry on the Real Health podcast.

Last year, Sexton signed a contract extension with the Irish Rugby Football Union until the end of the 2020-21 season.

Now 34 years old, he is concerned about what he will do when he retires.

“As a rugby player it’s your biggest worry. The thing you think about most, the thing you worry about most is when you’re going to have to finish.

“And that could be tomorrow, you don’t have any certainty in the game we are in. You’re contract can by finished tomorrow.”

Sexton has no post rugby plans as of yet, and says his biggest challenge is looking after his three young children Luca, Amy, and Sophie with wife Laura Priestley.

For more episodes from the Real Health podcast don’t forget to visit the show page: www.independent.ie/podcasts/the-re…health-podcast/

The Real Health podcast is in association with Laya Healthcare.


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