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WATCH: 'He's the only guy to start at ten' - Luke Fitzgerald backs Sexton to see off Lions rivals after Ireland return

25 February 2017; Jonathan Sexton of Ireland celebrates after scoring a drop goal during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship game between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
25 February 2017; Jonathan Sexton of Ireland celebrates after scoring a drop goal during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship game between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Ireland earned their second win of the 2017 Six Nations after a tough encounter against France at the Aviva Stadium, with the victory emphasising the importance of Johnny Sexton to Joe Schmidt's set-up.

After struggling with injuries in recent weeks - yesterday's game was Sexton's first international appearance since playing the All Blacks in Dublin in November - the Leinster star ran the show as Ireland emerged 19-9 winners.

Speaking on a special post-game episode of The Left Wing from the Aviva Stadium, former Ireland star Luke Fitzgerald heaped praise on Sexton after his commanding performance.

And with a Lions tour to New Zealand looming this summer, Fitzgerald reckons that if Sexton can get a run of games between now and the end of the season, he will be one of the first names on Warren Gatland's team-sheet.

"I think that it is important that he gets a body of work behind him," Fitzgerald said.

"I think if he does, he is the only guy to start at ten. Ford is a superb operator but I think he is a bit small to take on the All Blacks. Owen Farrell isn't playing at ten for England and that is the combination I would pick. Johnny at ten and Owen at 12.

"That gives you so much variation because they are such good attackers themselves and they release what will be a very dangerous back three. I hope Johnny gets that body of work coming back because he is the standout ten in European rugby for me."

Six Nations coverage on The Left Wing, in association with Aer Lingus, the Official Airline to the Irish Rugby Team

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