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The 'strange way' Sexton reacted when Farrell first spoke to him

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Johnny Sexton is heading to Twickenham reinstated as Andy Farrell’s Ireland skipper nine years after their first conversation prompted a strange look from the veteran out-half after the coach asked him a question by way of introduction.

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The 36-year-old has been named at out-half to take on England having missed last month’s round two Six Nations match away to France because of injury. He was then only chosen as a sub for the round three win over Italy but he now retakes the No10 jersey from Joey Carbery, who will provide the bench back-up in London.

The recall of Sexton to the Ireland starting line-up came just two days after he agreed to a contract that will see him retire at the age of 38 when the 2023 World Cup in France is over. 

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Back in the Game – RFU
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Back in the Game – RFU

Farrell has been his head coach with Ireland since 2020 having been an assistant to Joe Schmidt since 2016. However, he first chatted to Sexton as an assistant to Warren Gatland on the 2013 Lions tour to Australia and Farrell recalled that conversation when asked on Thursday about his relationship with the Ireland out-half. 

“The first conversation that I remember having with him was the 2013 Lions where we met for the first time in a hotel the week before we left for Australia and my first question to him was do you enjoy talking about rugby and he looked at me in a strange way to say, ‘Are you kidding? That’s part of my problem’. 

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“He loves it. He lives and breathes it. That is what he has done so well. When people talk about 10,000 hours and people putting time on the field and it is all about practice, you have not got a clue what is going on in people’s minds. I think I have got a bit of a clue about what is going on in Johnny’s mind. 

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“He is fantastic. He cares about his own performance, his own preparation, his team’s performance. He is a team player first and foremost. He cares and is driven to be as good as he possibly can be and that is why you get longevity in any walk of life.”

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