Are we over reliant on Johnny Sexton?

Andrew Dunne proffered an interesting theory about Sexton's current worth to as a first choice out-half

Are we over reliant on Johnny Sexton?

©INPHO/James Crombie

With Johnny Sexton currently recovering from injury, we take a look at the possible candidates who could inherit the Irish number 10 jersey in the future.

Joe Schmidt has advised that Johnny Sexton take break from rugby following an extensive period of fighting injuries. In February of this year, it was reported that Sexton had started 22 games and finished just three of them due to persistent injuries.

Concussion is a word that has become synonymous with Sexton. He was stood down for three months in 2014 after suffering the injury in four different outings. He suffered further head bangs earlier this year and vented his frustration at the continued focus on his injuries. Research has discovered that out-halfs statistically endure concussions more than any other player in a rugby team but Sexton has had other injury issues to contend with.

His hamstring has repeatedly afflicted him in recent years. He declared himself fit for the New Zealand clash despite being withdrawn from Leinster's defeat to Montpellier to help aid his recovery from a hamstring problem. His ambition however, was not enough to sustain him through the historical win in Chicago, eventually succumbing to cramp in his other leg.

He was omitted from the team that defeated Australia at the weekend, which poses an interesting question about Ireland's ability to thrive in his absence.

Former Leinster, Connacht and Harlequins outhalf Andrew Dunne, spoke to Off The Ball over the weekend. He believes that Ireland can look beyond Sexton and consider other long-term options.

"I don't think Sexton brings any je ne sais quoi. He does regimentally, exactly what's asked of him and he tends to do it all the time. Joe (Schmidt) loves that, he's got a lieutenant on the field, it's like mini-Joe on the field, it's Joe's brain telling people what to do."

"The players who play with Sexton would say he has that similar attention to detail whereby he knows where everyone else should be as well as where he should be. If you're not in those positions, he lets you know. Very few people in life, seem to operate like that."

Dunne also highlighted Paddy Jackson's performance at the weekend and explained why players are reliant on Sexton in games.

"I thought his place-kicking was excellent. It's always a pressure environment as a place-kicker, particularly when you are not the first choice and you're coming in there like he is and there's question marks. His first kick was a tricky one, it was 40 metres out. His passing was good too and he is a good passer. I'd say he woke up this morning, quite confident."

"Joe would have picked Madigan at 10 a lot and Madigan is an entirely different operator to Sexton. So is Joey Carberry. I think Paddy Jackson is somewhere in the middle. There's an aura about Johnny Sexton being there, he's quite domineering and he gives leadership. What he also does is takes decision-making away from other players, probably in a good way. When he's not there, others have to step up a little bit in terms of responsibility and decision making."

"There's a lot of talent there and there's a lot of guys who are leaders in their own provinces and teams. I don't think it's that big an issue if he's not there while I think he is the first choice, I don't think he should be cast in stone over the next two years."