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"Carty is not Sexton" | Ireland missed Sexton pulling the strings, says O'Driscoll

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

04:48 29 Sep 2019



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Ireland suffered against Japan, in part, for not having Johnny Sexton on the pitch pulling the strings, according to Brian O'Driscoll. 

The former Irish captain spoke to Joe Molloy on Sunday's Off The Ball and relayed his view that Ireland struggled without the leadership of Johnny Sexton as a number ten.

One thing that highlighted the problem of Sexton's absence, O'Driscoll noted, was the decision to stop cross-field kicks after the success of the tactic in the first half.

"We had some success there and when you have some success with a play it doesn't mean, 'Oh, we've used that once or twice it won't work again.'

"You keep going back to it until they are able to modify their defence to counter it. Use what is going well in the first half in the second half as well. I found that very confusing."

The responsibility for that "confusing" decision comes down, naturally, to Jack Carty in number ten but also, O'Driscoll said, to his number 12 and 13 outside him.

"That responsibility isn't just on Jack's shoulders. The eyes of the ten have to come from 12, 13 and outside.

"He has got such a focus on getting the ball and organising what comes next. You've got to understand where space is from a 12 and 13 perspective.

"Whether that message was being relayed in I'm not sure, but it was a really strange one and one I couldn't understand as the game went on why they didn't continually go back to it."

While O'Driscoll says he thought Carty "had a great 30 minutes" until he did not get the quality of ball later in the game, the decision highlighted the absence of  Johnny Sexton as one of Ireland's best players.

"I think there were certain occasions out there if you put Johnny Sexton in that quarterback position he would have picked the pass.

"There was one occasion when Keith Earls was right out on the touchline and we've seen Sexton whipping those 15-20 metre passes, almost like a kick pass but from his hands and right in front of wingers.

"He's capable of doing that. Jack is new to the international game – he got closed down himself on that occasion – that comes with a little bit of experience and know-how

"When your playing opposition at the top of their game you need your best players pulling the strings and Jack Carty is not Johnny Sexton."

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