Johnny Sexton’s ability to deal with referees will be crucial if he is to be a successful Ireland captain, according to Keith Wood.

The former Ireland captain was speaking to Off The Ball and felt that the fly-half will have to rein in his fiery nature when dealing with officials for the good of his team.

“Well I don’t know that it’s a concern but I think we’re not reading too much into anything because how he deals with the referee becomes very important. He is the one that has to be the most vocal.

“Tone matters a huge amount talking to a referee. Picking your moments counts a huge amount.

“Your body language counts a huge amount when you’re talking to a referee. If you’re rushing up to the referee to give him a bollocking, referees tend not to take too nicely to that.

“He has shown at different times that he can push it too much. He is 33, 34 years of age.

“This is where he has to grasp that idea of maturity and he could do a really, really good job. Because he fulfils a lot of roles for what a captain does,” Wood said.

Sexton has been the Leinster captain since Isa Nacewa’s departure and has captained Ireland once before in their World Cup pool game against Russia.

While Wood feels like there are areas that Sexton can work on, he was confident that the Leinster player is well capable of making the step up.

“He is a big decision maker for Ireland and has been for Leinster and has done well for Leinster with it. He wants it. Now, I often don’t know if I want guys to want it. I want them to get it and then want it after the fact.

“Well, he has it now and let’s see how he goes about it. He can’t react just as a player.

“He has to play as a player but he can’t react just as a player. He has to react as a captain,” Wood said.

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