Sunday 17 February 2019

There is still more to come, Sexton insists

Johnny Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile
Johnny Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Johnny Sexton may have hit the ground running this season, but the Leinster captain insists that there is much more to come, both from him personally and as a team.

The out-half impressed in both of the recent home wins over the Dragons and Edinburgh as Leinster bounced back well from their disappointing defeat to the Scarlets.

These are still very early days in the season and while the signs might be pointing to another positive campaign, Sexton has been around long enough to know the importance of staying grounded.

"Look, the first game, against the Dragons, they're very different to what they've been," Sexton (above) said.

"They've got a lot of good players now and the ball-in-play time for that game was maybe the highest I've ever played in a league game.

"I think it was 46 or 47 minutes, which was a lot. When you play the All Blacks you probably expect the ball to be in play for that amount of time.

"Now admittedly the intensity of it would probably be greater. But it was a bit of a shock to the system so when you're not match fit that's a struggle.

"Then against Edinburgh, it was a totally different game but incredibly physical. I don't think there's any bigger team in the league than them.

"I know they rested a couple of guys but the guys they brought in are internationals and big men, so it was physical.

"We've had a bit of everything so far in the first four games. Guys have one or two games, and now it's about trying to build your form.

"Obviously I'm not where I want to be and that will come with match fitness, and there's a lot of other guys in a similar situation."

Taking on the extra responsibility as captain doesn't appear to have burdened Sexton in any way, yet he is the first to admit that he is still learning the ropes in terms of his discussions with referees.

It helps, however, that Sexton has been a leader in every team he has played in.

Responsibility

"I've always felt, whether I should have or not, I've taken a lot of responsibility," he insisted.

"As an out-half, you naturally take a lot of responsibility because how the team plays at the weekend is how they prepare. The 10 will have a big role, along with the coach, in driving things. 

"If the team plays bad, I would have always taken a lot of the responsibility whether I should have as a young player or not.

"To be honest, I don't think too much has changed. Right or wrong, I probably thought I was captain when there were times I wasn't.

"I probably p****d off the captain I played with at times. But I always respected them even though I probably annoyed them, badgered them."

Irish Independent

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