Monday 14 October 2019

Ireland have no problem with Sexton venting frustrations over patchy form

Rob Kearney has defended the fly-half over his fiery temperament.

Johnny Sexton has been defended over his temperament by team-mate Rob Kearney (Paul Harding/PA)
Johnny Sexton has been defended over his temperament by team-mate Rob Kearney (Paul Harding/PA)

By Nick Purewal, Press Association Sport

Rob Kearney insists Ireland have no problems with Johnny Sexton venting his frustrations about the patchy form of Joe Schmidt’s men.

British and Irish Lions fly-half Sexton came under fire in some quarters following an expletive-laden rant when departing the field late on during Ireland’s sluggish 26-16 Guinness Six Nations win in Italy.

Kearney and Sexton have linked up with Leinster and Ireland for the bulk of their careers, and the 32-year-old full-back defended his playmaker team-mate.

Rob Kearney, right, insists Ireland are happy with Johnny Sexton, left, and his taskmaster approach (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sexton is famed for his frank approach with colleagues, and Kearney is adamant Ireland would not change the world player of the year.

“That’s Johnny, isn’t it? We’re a little bit used to it,” said Kearney of Sexton.

“We all get frustrated and we all show our frustration in different ways.

“I’ve played with Johnny for 15-odd years so I’m the wrong person to ask.”

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When quizzed on how often he would cop a harsh word from the demanding Sexton, Kearney replied: “Weekly. Johnny understands the game very well and is very clear in how he wants to play it.

“That’s his way of communicating it.”

Ireland’s defence of their 2018 Six Nations title and Grand Slam faltered from the start, with their 32-20 Dublin loss to England a wake-up call after a stellar 12 months.

Patchy victories in Scotland and against Italy in Rome have followed, leading to head coach Schmidt to admit Sexton and scrum-half Conor Murray have been angry and frustrated with their form.

Ireland host France on Sunday, itching to kick-start a calendar year that culminates with the autumn’s World Cup in Japan.

Schmidt’s men may have to do without Robbie Henshaw this weekend though, with the Leinster star a doubt, having failed to recover from a dead leg.

Ireland took the unusual step of delaying confirmation of their wider squad for their Les Bleus encounter until Wednesday morning.

Robbie Henshaw is a doubt for Ireland’s Six Nations clash with France (Brian Lawless/PA)

Henshaw has not featured since that opening-round England defeat, where he was deployed at full-back for just the second time in his Test career.

Fly-half Joey Carbery is still inching back to full fitness after hamstring trouble, while flanker Dan Leavy continues to nurse an ankle problem.

“Robbie Henshaw is improving more slowly than hoped and he will continue his rehab this week,” the Irish Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed in a statement.

“Joey Carbery is progressing well through his hamstring rehab and will be managed across the early part of the week.

“Andrew Conway has fully recovered from cramp suffered post the Italy game.

“Dan Leavy will continue to increase his running volume outside of team training in the early part of this week.

“The Ireland squad for round four of the championship will be confirmed tomorrow morning.”

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