How Ireland great Johnny Sexton is still setting the standards in training after ban

Colin Newboult

Fly-half Johnny Sexton in Ireland training in 2023.

Ireland’s Garry Ringrose has hailed the impact Johnny Sexton has had in training as they continue preparations for the Rugby World Cup.

The fly-half can only influence matters away from matches over the next month following his ban for comments aimed towards referee Jaco Peyper after Leinster’s Champions Cup final defeat.

He will miss Ireland’s three World Cup warm-up encounters, with the playmaker available for their tournament opener against Romania.

Sexton has not played since March, where he was a key cog in their Grand Slam success, but the 38-year-old is still setting the standard in the Irish set-up.

Others may rest on their laurels given the lengthy absence but not Sexton, who has been a vital part of Ireland’s preparations says Ringrose.

High standards

“In training, for someone who’s been there so long, he operates at a level that demands (a high standard),” he told Off the Ball.

“I guess you see it in some of the greats across other sports, they have that edge about them that gets the most out of you.”

According to wing James Lowe, it is not a matter of ‘doing as I say, not as I do’ for Sexton, with the fly-half also expecting a lot of himself.

“The standards that he demands of us, he demands of himself as well. It’s a reflection of him that he’s managed to last this long and play at such a high level,” Lowe said.

“But I don’t want to say too many nice things about him!

“To have your emotional leader being the one who is also really, really good at rugby, (it helps the squad).

“We’re all in the same boat rowing in the same direction and when you’ve got a man like that at the helm, it does mean a lot to the team.

“I would rather have him on my team than playing against him.”

Coaching excellence

As well as the talent on the pitch, there is also plenty of quality off it with head Andy Farrell putting together an excellent backroom team.

“I think a lot of the coaching staff complement each other quite well. In this environment, everybody wants what’s best for each other,” Lowe added.

“You’ve got Paulie (Paul O’Connell) who’s some man for the attention to detail and then he’s got his little sidekick in Fogs (John Fogarty), who’s the absolute craic.

“Those two work in tandem, they’re yin and yang, but they work so well.

“Faz expects the highest of standards and we’re going in a good direction at the moment.”

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