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Ireland let slip World Cup 'minutes' plan for Johnny Sexton

By PA
Johnny Sexton of Ireland uses an icepack during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Ireland and Romania at Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux on September 09, 2023 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Ireland intend to give veteran captain Johnny Sexton as many minutes as he can manage during the Rugby World Cup.

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Fly-half Sexton returned from an absence of almost six months due to injury and suspension to lead his country to a crushing 82-8 victory over Romania in their Pool B opener in Bordeaux.

Tougher tests await the world’s top-ranked nation as next weekend’s clash against Tonga in Nantes is followed by pivotal Paris appointments with South Africa and Scotland.

Ireland face a balancing act of wanting the 38-year-old on the pitch as much as possible while ensuring he is in peak condition for the critical moments.

Defence coach Simon Easterby said: “Johnny’s not got potentially many more times wearing the green jersey and – those of you who know him – he wants to play every minute that he can.

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“That will be a conversation between him and Faz (head coach Andy Farrell) and making sure that he and Faz are happy with the discussions and how they want to map out the next couple of weeks.

“But certainly from our end, he’s the captain, he’s the talisman in the squad and the more minutes he can play the better.”

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Sexton scored two tries as part of a 24-point haul on Saturday afternoon to surpass Ronan O’Gara as Ireland’s leading World Cup points scorer.

The oldest international in Ireland’s history, who will retire after the tournament, was replaced by Jack Crowley in the 65th minute to a standing ovation.

“I think it’s great that he got that many minutes,” said Easterby.

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“He looked good, he looked fresh, he was energetic and I guess because of his age and his experience, he doesn’t tend to need a huge amount of rugby to get himself back into the swing of things.

“Training throughout the pre-season has helped that and has given him plenty of opportunities to play the game, as it were, as opposed to just training and running and doing fitness.

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“It is different in a game and it’s different against opposition that we don’t know what they’re going to do all the time, that makes it a little bit more unpredictable.

“But certainly if Johnny is fit and available then it’s great for us and it means that he can keep on playing.”

Ireland fielded 10 World Cup newcomers against Romania, with rookie lock Joe McCarthy claiming one of their 12 tries.

“It is great to have so many debutants,” said Easterby. “They all produced some brilliant rugby at times.

“From that perspective, it’s more about us going week to week and having the right blend, the right dynamic in the side.

“Tonga will be a very different proposition to what we faced (on Saturday).”

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1 Comment
J
John 307 days ago

And this is news ? But could Faz be also offering a few red herrings 🤣

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sean 44 minutes ago
The bite don't match the bark

Yeah, he has a few good points… I disagree that our 7s haven't done anything, we won Bronze in 2016, and we were virtually unplayable to the backend of the “teens” winning the series. 7s is far more competitive globally than Union, so it's fair to say we haven't dominated, but we are almost always contenders. But I do agree that our national side doesn't perform nearly as well as it should between World Cups, and I do agree that our supporters can be too passionate and the opitimity of what Rugby stands against. I have said so many times. And I also believe some context needs to be taken into account with Saturday's win for Ireland. They're a really good team! Settled coaching staff, and bar a few legends retiring, they've had a full season and plenty of time together. We have some youngsters being groomed for the future, have played only 3 games now under a new coaching team with new philosophies and game plans. I'm excited by what the future of this team holds, as much as I am disappointed by the result. But unlike this article suggests, I am never going to take away from what Ireland has achieved, is achieving, and where they're heading. As a Rugby fan, I love the tight games, like the last two weekends. As a Bok Super Fan, I agree we don't perform as well as we should. And as an aside, you come play a game at 7am on our fields, bud. -2°c and frost on the field that is as hard as concrete…. Then we’ll see just how tough you are. Well done Ireland! They played well, and gave our boys a lot to think about. That's what you want from the top two teams in the world. Rugby won. The fans of this greatbsport won. A'n bullshit like this article is why Rugby is losing its identity. I don't like soccer. This article perpetuates the soccer influences the game of Rugby is starting to see. It's why Wayne Barnes retired, feared for his family, and he isn't the only ref to say so. I have called out many Bok fans for being an embarrassment to the game, and I will continue to do so. Rugbypass.com, this article is close to the same bullshit. You should be better.

38 Go to comments
M
Michael 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

26 Go to comments
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