Six Nations: Ireland coach Mike Catt likens Johnny Sexton’s ‘obsessive’ mentality to England legend Jonny Wilkinson
Ireland attack coach Mike Catt believes that Johnny Sexton is similar to his former England teammate Jonny Wilkinson in terms of being a ‘mental animal’.
Catt has hailed the Ireland skipper ahead of the Six Nations Grand Slam decider against England on Saturday, where Sexton will look to sign off his Six Nations career in style.
‘Obsessive’ Sexton and Wilkinson
Sexton is playing in his final Six Nations campaign before ending his Test career after the Rugby World Cup this year.
Last weekend against Scotland, the 37-year-old fly-half equalled Ronan O’Gara’s all-time record of 557 points in the Championship and is set to become the outright all-time scorer in his final game.
Catt, who won the 2003 World Cup with England during his playing days with Wilkinson, feels plenty of parallels exist between Sexton and the former England fly-half.
“They’re both obsessive; they’re just completely different mental animals,” Catt said of Sexton and Wilkinson.
“They’re so in the moment; they’re so in the game. Everything means a hell of a lot.
“They’re deep thinkers of the game, and it’s bringing that freedom out of them so they can go and perform that’s the crucial thing.
“But how they make people feel around them is what they’re very, very good at as well.
“When you stand next to a Jonny Wilkinson or a Johnny Sexton, you feel pretty special.
“There are a lot of comparisons in there, but ultimately you’ve got to deliver on the hype on the big stage, and both Johnny’s have done that. Let’s see what Johnny can do tomorrow.”
Emulate 2003 England
In 2003, England claimed a Six Nations Grand Slam before securing their maiden Rugby World Cup title eight months later.
Fast forward 20 years and Catt is aiming to emulate that success as part of Andy Farrell’s coaching staff.
Catt believes the progression of Ireland and their rise to the top of the world rankings has “gripped the nation”.
“It’s going to be a great weekend,” said Catt, looking ahead to the clash with England.
“I think the fans have been amazing; the way the boys have played has definitely gripped the nation in terms of the success we’ve had over the past year.
“But, as a group, we’re not going to get too emotional over the whole thing.”
England head to Dublin off the back of a record defeat to France in Round Four of the Championship.
Catt is wary of an “exceptionally dangerous” team and singled out the strengths of Steve Borthwick’s backs ahead of the clash.
“We’re massively respectful of that side, especially from a backline point of view,” said Catt.
“There’s no way we’re thinking anything other than it’s going to be a tough, tough Test match.
“They’ve got some proper X-factor, and I think Arundell is one of those players that we haven’t seen a massive amount of, but if he gets the ball, he can cause absolute chaos.
“They are exceptionally dangerous across the board, and we’re well aware of that.”
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