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'People are too quick to forget what Johnny Sexton has achieved' - Wales captain praises Irish skipper

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Alun Wyn Jones of Wales and Jonathan Sexton

Alun Wyn Jones of Wales and Jonathan Sexton

SPORTSFILE

Alun Wyn Jones of Wales and Jonathan Sexton

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones believes that Johnny Sexton does not get the credit he deserves for what he has achieved in the game, as he backed the Ireland skipper to be a success in his new role.

The pair played together on the last two Lions tours where Jones saw plenty of leadership qualities in Sexton.

They will come face-to-face as opposing international captains for the first time tomorrow, and Jones hailed the influence that Sexton has had throughout his career.

Jones was speaking in Dublin this afternoon after Wales went through their captain's run in the more private surrounds of UCD rather than the Aviva Stadium where they would normally hold it.

"I have been shouted at by him a few times and that's what you need to do," Jones said of his experience of Sexton on the Lions tours.

"It's different characters isn't it? The way Johnny plays is the biggest thing. Some people say that sometimes his competitiveness can be one of his weaknesses, but I think that is one of his strengths, most defintely.

"There have been occasions domestically and internationally, where he would have dragged a team in his performance, whether it be through his kicking or passing or his general presence. Johnny has got that in abundance.

"It's funny, it's the perennial question about captaincy and leadership – what if and what not, who is good and who is not.

"Ultimately, as players when you get the armband, it's a label. I have always said this.

"You still have to perform, you still have to head up your own department and Johnny has been doing that for Ireland and Leinster for many, many years. So, I am sure it's a role that he will just slip into."

Yesterday, Sexton spoke highly of how Jones goes about managing referees during the white heat of battle as he looks to learn a thing or two from the veteran.

"If he has been studying me, it probably didn't take very long," Jones laughed.

"I think there is that element of leadership that is learned but also, you lead by being you and doing what you do.

"Every leader is different, particularly in different positions. Like I said, Johnny has done that for a long, long time and I think people are very quick to forget what he has achieved in the domestic jersey, which is sometimes more difficult than it is in the international scene. But he has been doing that for many years.

"It's funny when you go into captaincy relatively new, people look to put pressure on and look for you to change and become something else and demonstrate more leadership and wizardry and magical decisions.

"But ultimately, you are put in there because you are good at what you do anyway. So, like I said, I think Johnny will be seamless in that role."

After easing past the meagre challenge of Italy last weekend, Wales are expecting a major ramp-up in quality against Ireland, with Jones warning that his side have already seen changes in the game-plan under Andy Farrell.

"I think there is width, I think the team looks a bit freer, if I am honest," the lock added.

"They are your typical Irish team. You look at the influences from Leinster and the Ulster side who are doing well at the minute. You can see that across the board.

"Andy Farrell going to head coach will have shored up the defence. The emotional levels will have been there in the week. You could definitely see that last week."

Online Editors