Tuesday 17 July 2018

'If Johnny doesn't get it, I'd be shocked - Ian Madigan backs Sexton for World Rugby Player of the Year award

Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the 2018 Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series 2nd Test match between Australia and Ireland at AAMI Park, in Melbourne, Australia.
Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the 2018 Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series 2nd Test match between Australia and Ireland at AAMI Park, in Melbourne, Australia.

Sam Roberts

Ian Madigan and Luke Fitzgerald agree that Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton is the clear favourite to win World Rugby's Player of the Year award this season.

Sexton capped a remarkable season for club and country with a series victory in Australia, a 20-16 win in the third test in Sydney enough to secure a 2-1 series triumph.

The successful tour was the culmination of a season that saw Sexton guide Ireland to only their third-ever Grand Slam, while also completing the PRO 14 and European Cup double with Leinster.

Both Madigan and Fitzgerald believe Sexton is the stand-out candidate to win World Rugby's Player of the Year award, and the 32-year-old would be only the second Ireland player to win the honour after legendary hooker Keith Wood took home the inaugural award 17 years ago.

"I think if Johnny doesn't get World Player of the Year this year, I'd be shocked," Madigan told The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare.

"He stands alone on it, won everything he could this year, he's been phenomenal," the former Leinster fly-half added.

Fitzgerald agreed, and suggested the relative dearth of options makes Sexton's case even more compelling.

"Especially when the other guys have been a bit injury interrupted, you'd always make the case for Beauden Barrett, he's just unbelievably good, or Kieran Read, but he's been injured as well, so if there's ever a time for someone to win it, it's probably this year for Johnny."

Fitzgerald also suggested the trio of Sexton, Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy, none of whom started the first test in Australia, could be considered the best in the world in their respective positions.

"At the moment I think all those three guys get into a World XV, because you could make a case for putting maybe Beauden Barrett at fullback.

"Very close call between Johnny (and Barrett), they're very different players, but I don't know who's better than Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong."

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