Sunday 20 May 2018

'He's got to pick his best 10 and that could be Sexton' - Eddie O'Sullivan thinks Owen Farrell could be axed

Owen Farrell, right, and Jonathan Sexton of the British & Irish Lions following the First Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Owen Farrell, right, and Jonathan Sexton of the British & Irish Lions following the First Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Ireland Head Coach Eddie O'Sullivan has said that Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton may earn a promotion to the tourists' starting side next week after the Lions went down 30-15 to New Zealand in the opening Test match in Auckland on Saturday.

New Zealand ran in three tries to two to run out comfortable winners in the first Test at Eden Park with Owen Farrell kicking five of the Lions 15 points in a forgettable evening for the visitors.

With the Lions trailing 20-8 with 24 minutes to go in the second-half, Sexton was brought on in place of former Leinster teammate Ben Te'o, with Farrell moving from fly-half to inside centre to accommodate the arrival of Irish out-half.

The Sexton-Farrell 10-12 axis was heavily mooted at the start of the tour after Farrell had thrived at the position during the Six Nations.

However, O'Sullivan says he can't see Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland starting the two alongside each other and therefore he has to choose between one of the two players, with O'Sullivan indicating that Sexton could be in line to replace Farrell for next weekend's second Test in Wellington.

"The balance of the midfield is good with Te'o and Jonathan Davies, maybe [Robbie] Henshaw has a shot," O'Sullivan told RTE Radio 1 on Saturday.

"But I don't think he's going to play a first and second five-eighth like we did in '05 with [Stephen] Jones and [Jonny] Wilkinson, that didn't work at all.

"I think that midfield will be vulnerable defensively. I think it would get picked apart a lot easier. I think he's got to pick his best 10 and that could be Sexton for next week.

"I don't know if he [Gatland] will go there, but he has to pick a 10, and then play the centres off him because that's his best chance of creating an attack I think."

Sexton and flanker Sean O'Brien were also seen remonstrating with referee Jaco Peyper after the Lions loss with Sexton heard saying to Peyper 'you give them everything' after the final whistle at Eden Park.

The Leinster fly-half was warned by Peyper to 'keep his arms down' and not to wave at the officials after he threw his hands up in the air following a Lions penalty for collapsing a New Zealand maul.

Sexton was also told later in the half that he was 'not the referee' after complaining to Peyper for awarding the Lions a scrum when he felt that his side deserved a penalty for Beauden Barrett's disruption of his intended pass to winger Elliot Daly.

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport