Wednesday 12 December 2018

'Mate, you'd be a brave man telling Sexton he wasn't playing...he almost ripped my head off every time'

Johnny Sexton, left, and Joey Carbery of Ireland
Johnny Sexton, left, and Joey Carbery of Ireland
Johnny Sexton goes through his paces at Ireland training with (from left) Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter, Rob Herring and Jack McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O’Connor in Brisbane

Michael Cheika has warned Johnny Sexton that young gun Joey Carbery is coming for him after learning that Joe Schmidt had decided to start the 22-year-old for tomorrow's first Test against Australia.

Recalling how a youthful Sexton once banged down his own door demanding Leinster selection a decade ago, the Wallabies supremo said the Ireland out-half will be wary of handing opportunities to the Munster-bound out-half.

Schmidt made six changes to the team Cheika watched beat England to secure the Grand Slam at Twickenham, with Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Seán Cronin and Sexton ready to make a big impact off the bench.


And, having seen Carbery play for his old side Leinster, he said he was not overly surprised to see him named in Schmidt's starting XV.

"Maybe, maybe not; maybe they want to give him one rest, maybe that was the deal to have a rest and play a couple," he said.

"Mate, you'd be a brave man telling Sexton he wasn't playing. I tell you right now, I had to deal with him for a few years, telling him he wasn't playing, he almost ripped my head off every time.

"So, look, the other lad (Joey Carbery) is a fine player. I've seen him play a lot on telly and live. He's got a real skill-set. To be honest, I don't think Johnny will be keen to give him the chance to play either."

Cheika was full of praise for the visiting side ahead of tomorrow morning's meeting at Suncorp Stadium.

"They're the best team Ireland has had since the start of their rugby history," he said.

"They're coming down here as number two in the world. They can claim that they're underdogs as much as they like, but they're certainly going to be the favourites when you go off the back of the season they've had.

"The consistency of the way they play, they've got a lot of self-belief.

They're coming here believing that they can win 3-0, no doubt about it from what I've read and seen."

As well as Carbery, Schmidt hands starts to John Ryan, Rob Herring, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy and Robbie Henshaw who didn't start in Twickenham.

Cheika, meanwhile, has handed debuts to hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa and No 8 Caleb Timu.

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