Saturday 19 January 2019

Johnny Sexton believes Ian McKinley is good enough for Ireland

Ian McKinley. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ian McKinley. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile newsdesk

Johnny Sexton believes Ian McKinley is showing strong enough form to win an Ireland cap.

The former Leinster out-half, who lost his sight in one eye six years ago, is on the cusp of making his international debut for Italy having rebuilt his career at Zebre and Treviso.

The 27-year-old was once seen as a possible rival to Sexton for Leinster and Ireland before a serious in-game accident resulted in what appeared to be a career-ending impediment.

With the use of protective goggles, the Dubliner has impressed for the Italian side this season and has been called up to Conor O'Shea's squad for the November internationals against Fiji, Argentina and South Africa.

Next spring, the duo could face off in a Six Nations match and while he's delighted for his old colleague, Sexton reckons Ireland's loss is Italy's gain.

"It is a great story," he said. "I know Ian well when he was with Leinster.

"I remember visiting with him after the accident to his eye. I remember being really sad for him because he was such a good guy.

"To see him go through what he's gone through and come out the other side and have the career he's having now is incredible.

"He is looking like he's going to go with Italy. The way he's playing he could definitely be involved in a green jersey.

"I caught up with him in Italy a couple of years ago when we were over. He was coaching at the time.

"It was around the time he was waiting for his licence for the glasses.

"He is one of the nicest guys you will meet. Whatever he decides, I hope it goes well for him.

"Either way, I just wish him all the best."

Irish Independent

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