Ireland a ‘more complete team’ without Johnny Sexton claims ex-half-back

Colin Newboult
Johnny Sexton applauding the Ireland fans during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Johnny Sexton applauding the Ireland fans during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Former Ireland scrum-half Isaac Boss believes that Andy Farrell’s men have improved since the Rugby World Cup.

The Irishmen went into the global tournament as the world number one side but were ousted at the quarter-final stage by the All Blacks.

It was a game of small margins and one where they had the chances to snatch the win, but it was ultimately eventual runners up New Zealand who came out on top.

Six Nations form

That heartbreak could have affected them going into the Six Nations, but Ireland immediately signalled their intent with a stunning 38-17 triumph away in France.

Farrell’s charges would then go on to win three of their next four matches – the 23-22 defeat to England their only setback – as they lifted the trophy.

Boss was speaking on The Breakdown and, asked whether they are better now than in comparison to the World Cup, he responded: “I actually think they are.

“Everyone was worried about the (end) of the Johnny Sexton era but I actually think it’s brought all these other players out. They’re a more complete team.

“That’s only good for Irish rugby in the future. It was a little bit scratchy in the last couple of weeks but St Patrick’s Day in Dublin, it’s pretty hard to beat. What a way to celebrate.”

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There were concerns over the crucial fly-half position following the retirement of captain and backline linchpin Johnny Sexton.

Youngster Jack Crowley, who was Sexton’s back-up at the World Cup, stepped into his shoes and performed excellently during the Six Nations.

Changing his mind

Boss initially had his doubts over whether the playmaker could replicate the brilliance of his predecessor, but he was impressed with how the 24-year-old handled the pressure.

“It’s very big boots to fill. To be honest, I’ve watched this kid for a little while and I wasn’t sure he was going to be able to step up to it like he has,” Boss said.

“It’s a real credit to the guys around him. We talked about Jammo (Jamison Gibson-Park); he was good last year but how much has that gone to the next level in the Six Nations, as well as Bundee (Aki) outside of him?

“He’s come in as a very inexperienced player in a very experienced backline. They’ve all risen because there’s no Johnny Sexton to take control and he’s just gone out there and played.

“He’s looked really, really good hasn’t he? He’s looked beyond his years with some of the plays he’s pulled out.”

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