In the wake of Japan’s seismic upset of the well-fancied Ireland side, a number of Irish fans have moved to blame injured flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, questioning why he wasn’t on the pitch for the match and suggesting voluntary resting was at play.
Sexton was left out of the matchday squad by Joe Schmidt and his coaching staff after picking up a hamstring complaint in the match against Scotland last week. In the match, Sexton gave up goal-kicking duties to halves partner Conor Murray.
‘Johnny is never happy about being left out,’ coach Joe Schmidt explained during the week.
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‘He got a little mileage against Scotland and we thought about bringing him off the bench, but it’s a case of being confident in the squad.
Some Irish fans are convinced that Sexton was rested as part of a ploy by Schmidt to protect his star 10 from playing in meaningless matches where he could be potentially injured, calling it ‘serious arrogance’.
Sexton’s mind games & attitude are part of “the malaise” in Irish rugby. He’s a diva & let’s hope he retires ASAP. Thankfully Joe is actually going & both men must be laughing all the way to the bank. #sextonmustgo #byebyejoe
— Michael Dunleavy (@dunleavymike51) September 28, 2019
— Peter McNamara (@PeterMcNamara_) September 28, 2019
— Le Démon Noir: The Black Demon (@ManelisiKetse) September 28, 2019
Good thing Johnny Sexton was rested for the important games. Joe Schmidt, you've done it again
— Shane Stapleton (@ShaneSaint) September 28, 2019
— Philip Byrne (@PhillySteak92) September 28, 2019
— John Carlisle (@dontbethatguyJC) September 28, 2019
— nicky saunders (@nickaghost) September 28, 2019
Stand-in outhalf Jack Carty was influential in Ireland’s first two tries, coming off the back of smartly placed kicks while the side enjoyed a penalty advantage. Although he forgave an automatic three points trying a quick cross-field kick from a penalty that ended up in touch with intended target Keith Earls.
When asked about whether he regrets not playing Johnny Sexton, Schmidt said he ‘didn’t want to make the same mistake again’ in not using his full squad like in 2015.
“I don’t think you ever regret utilising your squad because we were here four years ago and we kind of didn’t use the squad.
“We didn’t want to make that mistake again,” said Schmidt.
“I thought he [Carty] controlled the first half pretty well but once we came under pressure on the back of some penalties they got that field position.”
Shizuoka was repeat of Cardiff 2015 for Sexton-less Ireland
The Rugby Pod reflect on Scotland’s opening performance:
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