Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has come under scrutiny for his on-field behaviour in this year’s Six Nations after visible frustration manifested against Italy as Ireland struggle to find their best form.
His demonstrative display of berating teammates has upset fans who think their captain should show a more composed style of leadership. Ahead of this week’s crucial home clash against France in Dublin, fullback Rob Kearney explained that Sexton’s displays don’t impact the team negatively.
“No, I don’t think so,” he told the press.
“That’s Johnny, isn’t it? We’re a little bit used to it. We all get very frustrated and we all show our frustration in different ways.
“I’ve played with Johnny for 15 odd years now so maybe I’m not the one to ask but, certainly, I don’t think it’s having much of an effect on us.”
Kearney says it is impossible not to have been on the receiving end of a Sexton spray after 15 years of playing together, he said with a wry smile.
“Weekly,” said the Leinster 15. “I think we all have.
“I think it’s good, it drives standards among us. Johnny understands the game very well and he’s very clear in terms of how he wants to play it. That’s his way of communicating it.”
Ireland will be looking for a clinical performance against France that has escaped them thus far in the tournament. As for why the side hasn’t clicked, no one can pinpoint just one reason according to Sexton who explained last week that no one is as frustrated as the team.
“If you’d seen us in training last week,” Sexton said in an interview with Off The Ball AM, “you’d have thought we were going to go over to Italy and set the world alight.”
“We thought we were at a stage where we didn’t need to learn lessons through adversity.
Sexton believed that highlighting reasons would just be ‘making excuses’ and that the team just needs to be better.
“There are reasons,” he noted, “but I’m not going to come out and explain them all.”
“They’ll just look like excuses from us. We just need to be better and that’s the bottom line. ”
Ireland still remains in the hunt, after losing there opening round clash in Dublin against England they have rebounded with wins over Scotland and Italy. They must beat France at home this weekend, to head to Cardiff with a chance to spoil Wales.
Kearney believes that being back at home will be the catalyst for a lifting performance that Ireland is searching for.
“We’re at home in front of our fans in the Aviva playing for our country in the Six Nations, and that needs to be the overriding feeling for us at the weekend.”
Rassie Erasmus on the Rugby World Cup:
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