Ireland and Leinster legend Brian O’Driscoll has given some insight into what distinguishes Jonathan Sexton from Ireland’s other outhalf options.
Sexton produced a mesmeric display as Ireland pummelled Wales 29-7 in their opening Six Nations game in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
There has been considerable discussion around who leads the way as Sexton’s understudy in the current Ireland setup.
On Saturday, head coach Andy Farrell stuck with Munster’s Joey Carbery as his backup flyhalf.
However, O’Driscoll has explained why Sexton is believed to be so far ahead of the chasing pack.
O’Driscoll joined Joe on Tuesday’s Off The Ball. He identified some elements of the Ireland captain’s game which set him apart from the other 10’s.
He began by stressing that Sexton has had far more game time with Ireland than any of the other flyhalfs.
“Joey doesn’t have that much experience in that team as well, so I’m always mindful of cutting someone some slack,” O’Driscoll said.
“I don’t think he is the #10 that Johnny is, and I don’t think he ever will be able to play the same way and read it the same way we’ve become accustomed to.”
“I think we’ve got a really unique individual in that - until Johnny hangs up his boots, there is a strong likelihood I will continue to say that.”
“I’ve watched his game grow, and scrutinised it, and he just sees it clearer than most players.”
O'Driscoll: "With Carbery, it’s just a matter of being consistent”
O’Driscoll further delved into the precise elements of Sexton’s playing style.
“His understanding of how long to hold onto a ball, when to pass it, who to throw the eyes to - he doesn’t get it right 100% of the time, but he gets it 85-90% of the time.”
“That squaring up around the corner is key to this shape. Just a few times, Joey ended up running across the field, which forces the players outside to struggle to pick a line off him.”
“If you’re running a line into a particular line and Johnny squares up, Doris and Van Der Flier, they all modify their run to run at the outside shoulder of the defender that he has now fixed.”
However, O’Driscoll is quick to point out that Carbery has shown he is capable of executing that same type of movement.
“He did it well once or twice; it’s just a matter of being consistent.”
“At one point, he put Ringrose through and nudged the ball into space with a really good kick, through which Ireland forced the turnover, forced the lineout.”
“There was some good stuff, but considerably more inconsistent compared to Johnny.”
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