La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara believes that Johnny Sexton should have been replaced during the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand.
The former Ireland number 10 says that while it was ‘borderline miraculous’ that Sexton lasted the full match, he shouldn’t have finished the game against the All Blacks.
The match proved to be Sexton‘s final professional outing, having confirmed his retirement before the tournament, and while he has produced game-winning moments for Leinster and Ireland regularly in the past, he was unable to do so against New Zealand.
Crowley should have replaced Sexton
O’Gara believes that Ireland would have had a better chance had Jack Crowley replaced the veteran number 10 and that the schedule for the Champions Cup and Six Nations does help prepare players for the World Cup.
“The Six Nations and/or the Champions Cup are league and pool games, fairly well spaced out. There is nothing to compare to a World Cup model of four pool games, a one-week break and then straight into three finals, starting with the quarters,” O’Gara wrote in his Irish Examiner column.
“[Andy] Farrell placed a massive emphasis on depth but the elephant in the room was always the support behind Johnny Sexton.
“Watching that quarter final back, Johnny Sexton was borderline miraculous to still be on the field late on but he was blunted by fatigue, so even for a change of pace Crowley was surely the play.
“We don’t know how the Munster man might manage the knockout moments because there is no point of reference for Ireland beyond the quarter final. But it was surely time to find out.”
South Africa edge England
Meanwhile, the former fly-half was not surprised that South Africa were able to eke out a victory over England despite trailing 15-6 with 10 minutes left on the clock.
“Because South Africa have been there and won that, was it any great surprise that they were able to find the resolve to score those unanswered points and pinch the semi-final from England,” O’Gara added.
“They, like Ireland, have opted for the kicking certainty of Handre Pollard at ten for Saturday’s final, and their bench split is as transparent as a window. Going without a recognised nine on the bench must represent some sort of risk.”