Tuesday 23 July 2019

Brian O'Driscoll explains why he feels Johnny Sexton is 'actually getting better' as the flyhalf bids for fourth European title

Johnny Sexton is improving with age, according to Brian O'Driscoll (inset)
Johnny Sexton is improving with age, according to Brian O'Driscoll (inset)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland and Leinster legend Brian O'Driscoll that Johnny Sexton is actually improving with age rather than regressing.

O'Driscoll has explained why he feels the 32-year-old isn't regressing, like many of the outhalves of his age. Bravery.

While most flyhalves tend to sit deeper as they get older, Sexton is the exact opposite and Ireland's record tryscorer believes the Leinster playmaker is a more potent attacker as a result and is expecting another huge performance from him in tomorrow evening's Champions Cup final against Racing 92 in Bilbao.

Sexton's former team are likely to target him in the contact and O'Driscoll is hoping that referee Wayne Barnes puts in a strong display.

"I've noticed in years gone by that when (number) 10s get into their early 30s self-preservation becomes a thing and they get deeper and deeper ans the knock-on effect is that they push the defence on to players in wider channels," O'Driscoll told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"I think conversely to that I think Johnny is taking the ball flatter on the line and he encourages those shots that are right on the line.

"That's why he's at the peak of his powers, he's willing to be hit on the line and you have to have a strong referee to make sure those close calls are properly adjudicated.

"He's a selfless player. He's willing to take a shot or multiple shots for the team if he thinks he can create space out wider and that's why he's been as good as he's been for the past 10 years.

"I think he's actually getting better.

"He sees the game faster, in a slower context, than everyone else and that's why he can pick those passes. It's the small nuances of his game of being able to delay the pass by hundredths of a second and it's the difference at being able to pick one of two options. He almost waits for defences to make their reads and then he pulls his pass.

"That is a very unique thing, we don't see many 10s in world rugby doing that and that's why Johnny is absolutely pivotal to Leinster.

"I anticipate another big game from him. He was in rude health during the week and he's very excited about it."

Cian Healy, Isa Nacewa, Johnny Sexton and Devin Toner could make history in the Basque city by joining the Toulouse duo of Frederic Michalak and Cedric Heymans as the only players with four European Cup winners medals.

Online Editors

The Throw-In: D-Day looms in Castlebar, Jim Gavin’s plan for Diarmuid Connolly and the future of the Super 8s

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport