'They were showing all the young 10s in Ireland clips of him' - Johnny Sexton joins Dan Carter for wide-ranging interview
All Blacks legend Dan Carter says he sees lots of similarities in the way he and Johnny Sexton play the game. Ireland out-half Sexton was the latest guest on Carter’s Kickin’ It interview series on Instagram As well as discussing highlights from their careers, the two out-halves spoke about the similarities in how they both approach playing at 10.
“I think there are a lot of similarities to be honest,” Carter said.
“We love to control the game, so some of our specialities or parts of the game that are similar is that game management. We see space.
“We probably get just as much satisfaction setting up others players as we do potentially scoring tries ourself, even though the two of us don’t score that many. So that’s always quite nice.
“But I think game management and controlling the players (is similar). I mean, I look at the way Johnny plays, he’s always creating or demanding from the people around him. You can see him leading, and he tells what he wants from the players around him.
“And that was a big focus for me, probably more in the later stages of my career, because I’d just get away with natural talent (in the early stages), but then over time it was like, OK, now I’ve got to try and push the guys around me to help me and to help the team. So that sort of game management, controlling the game, for the two of us is very similar.”
While Sexton was reluctant to compare himself with the three-time World Player of the Year, he explained how he has been one of the key influences on his career.
“I don’t really want to compare myself to Dan Carter,” Sexton said.
“I will say that I’ve tried to watch Dan over the years. He’s not that much older than me, but he hit the skin a lot earlier than me.
“I remember watching his big break-through in 2005 against the Lions. I think I was just leaving school, and straight away tried to rob parts of his game and bring them into my own.
“I remember analysts showing all the young 10s in Ireland different clips of him, and when I talk about the greatest out-halves he’s obviously top of the tree.
“I used to really admire Jonny Wilkinson as well and try and take bits of his game, and Dan’s good friend Ronan O’Gara was the Irish out-half when I was growing up.
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“So I tried to always look at out-halves and take bits of their game and try and improve really. That was always something that I had in mind, and he was definitely at the fore-front of that.”
Despite his vast experience in the game, Sexton, 34, said he is still learning from fellow out-halves.
“I still definitely look at 10s, because often 10s come on the scene and they change the game in certain ways, or they do something where you think ‘OK, that’s a little bit special, I need to try and do that.’
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“But like some parts of my game, I couldn’t (change)… If I look at someone like Beauden Barrett, I can’t make myself unbelievably fast and score as many tries as he does. So that would just be silly. I’d break myself if I went out and tried to run quick.
“So it’s trying to be realistic and taking bits of people’s games that I admire and that I think would help me and the team.
“I’ve been lucky to learn from some great 10s. Felipe (Contepomi), I’m still leaning from him and I worked with ROG at Racing. He didn’t give me too many words of wisdom because he probably still felt like he was competing with me at the time. We probably were competing in training sessions, he was still joining in at that stage.
“But I’ve always tried to learn, and I’m still in that bracket. I still feel like one of the young guys so I want to keep trying to learn all the time.”
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