Tuesday 21 August 2018

Johnny Sexton admits that he must realise when he should 'bite his tongue'

Johnny Sexton training with Leinster
Johnny Sexton training with Leinster
Johnny Sexton
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The last time Johnny Sexton sat in the hot seat at the Aviva Stadium press conference room, he had just won his third Six Nations title.

It may only have been six weeks ago, but in Sexton's mind at least, it is already a distant memory as his focus has well and truly shifted towards winning a fourth European Cup medal with Leinster.

Six years have passed since Sexton and Leinster last got their hands on the trophy that they so desperately crave.

"I didn't think about it like that, thanks for reminding me," Sexton smiles.

Leinster believe they are in a better position to go one better than last year, but so too do the Scarlets.

Defeats

Semi-final defeats last season - to today's opponents in the PRO12 and Clermont in Europe - won't be fully put to bed unless Leinster win.

"When you are in the midst of winning three previous successes that we have had, you think it will be plain sailing every year," Sexton admits.

"Every year you win it, you think it is easier and easier, but every year you don't, it seems to get harder and harder."

This time last year, Sexton insisted that players had to learn harsh lessons about what it takes to win at this level.

Twelve months on, no one is taking anything for granted and Leinster are more determined than ever to be Europe's kingpins once again.

"This week has been excellent, so was the Saracens week," Sexton maintains.

"We're lucky, when a lot of other countries have Six Nations success, or a Grand Slam, maybe their players come back not as motivated. Whereas, we care so much about playing for Leinster."

Sexton takes over as captain, despite Isa Nacewa being named in the starting XV. With the regular club captain missing training earlier this week due to illness, the decision was taken to go with Sexton.

The 32-year old is no stranger to leading teams and it is perhaps a role we could see Sexton taking on more often.

"It's a still a work in progress for me," he admits.

"When I'm not captain you don't have that responsibility of talking to the ref but at times in the heat of battle it can get on top of you.

"You probably saw that in the Saracens game. I probably let myself down a bit in terms of getting a bit angry or agitated by some the stuff that is happening or maybe a decision I see because I am close to it or I know it is wrong. It's just about biting your tongue.

"Now I've a responsibility to speak to him in the right way. Like I said, it's something I've had a handful of chances to do with Leinster this year.

"I've done it when Rory (Best) has gone off for Ireland. It is something I've enjoyed but I'm not overly burdened about it."

Irish Independent

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