Monday 22 July 2019

Brian O'Driscoll: Eddie Jones is trying to shift focus of debate with Johnny Sexton comments

Owen Farrell tackle and (inset) Sexton
Owen Farrell tackle and (inset) Sexton
David Kelly

David Kelly

Brian O'Driscoll believes that Eddie Jones is trying to shift the focus of debate by claiming Irish out-half Jonathan Sexton gets special treatment from referees.

English out-half Owen Farrell was deemed lucky by many not to have conceded a late penalty for a high tackle last week against South Africa which may have cost his side victory.

And Jones has asserted, "If he was Sexton then we'd be able to complain about him, but because he's Owen Farrell he's allowed to be hit late. He's tough so he gets up and he plays."

O'Driscoll takes a different view.

"Do I think he's more protected?" asked O'Driscoll, speaking as part of a Guinness preview of the November internationals.

"Owen Farrell throws it around a lot more than Johnny Sexton, so maybe from that perspective there's less sympathy when he cops a late one, because he's prone to the odd loose one himself, as the end of the game showed.

"I backed the referee's call immediately after the game, and I've actually revised that thought.

"I actually didn't understand it, and as a pundit maybe it's a disgrace, but I actually thought if it's an attempted wrap with the non-tackling shoulder that would suffice.

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"But it doesn't. There has to be a wrap with the tackling shoulder. So you can't hold one arm down. Now that action in itself is not easy.

"But I stand corrected there on the basis that it obviously is a penalty.

"And South Africa get a shot at goal. I do feel Sexton, albeit he is very brave and tackles hard, he doesn't tackle with the aggression or the intent of throwing shots in.

"As a result you get a reputation that you don't need looking after as much as others. That's my take on it. He doesn't need protecting.

"But I think as well that Johnny, even more so than Owen Farrell, Johnny takes the ball to the line and encourages those shots, because they are marginal, a lot of them.

"But he's clever enough to throw them as early as not always to get the heat.

"So if he throws it half a second away from the contact and someone still follows through, it's a call for the referee to make.

"Sometimes he'll accept the one he throws right on the line, he gets right after he releases it, but that's fair game. But we're achieving exactly what Eddie was hoping for!"

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Dublin, 9th November 2018: Ahead of the Guinness Series kicking off this weekend, former Irish international rugby player Brian O’Driscoll was on hand to preview Ireland’s game against Argentina as a part of Guinness’ #AnswerIrelandsCall campaign. #AnswerIrelandsCall celebrates the camaraderie between rugby fans, by giving them a voice and rallying them to get behind the Irish Rugby team. Throughout the series fans are encouraged to get involved as Guinness is giving away a number of pairs of tickets to each fixture including the sold out Ireland v New Zealand game at the Aviva Stadium. Fans should visit the Guinness Facebook page and leave their message of support using the #AnswerIrelandsCall to be in with a chance to win tickets to the Guinness Series (terms and conditions apply) *.

Sexton has Brian O'Driscoll's vote for World Rugby player of the year – and he hopes his fellow northern hemisphere judges agree.

"Of course he can win it. I'm only one of eight judges so he is one eighth of the way there.

"He's been one of the most consistent players but sometimes we can get forgotten about by our southern hemisphere counterparts.

"Hopefully the other judges from the north, Clive Woodward, Maggie Alphonsi and Fabien Galthie will give weight to his achievements.

"His seven of ten is a poor game, he's be a worthy winner."

O'Driscoll also believes that Irish coach Joe Schmidt was "scarred" by his side's World Cup defeat to Argentina as he prepares to tackle the Pumas again tomorrow.

"He is still scarred from the 2015 World Cup. I'm still scarred from the 1999 World Cup.

"Argentina are exactly the sort of side we need to test us at this stage and they will do so defensively.

"We were caught narrow in that World Cup and they were capable of exploiting that.

"Apart from Rob Kearney, Garry Ringrose and Conor Murray, this is our strongest side.

"I don't think Joe will allow them to take their eye off the ball. They have been looking at New Zealand, of course, they have done their analysis.

"This squad is good enough to take a day here and there to analyse New Zealand but this week the full focus will be on Argentina because it needs to be."

Brian O'Driscoll was speaking as part of a preview of the Ireland vs. Argentina GUINNESS series match on behalf of Guinness.

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