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Jonathan Sexton looks to be in peak condition - Monday Night Rugby

Gerry Thornley explains that Jonathan Sexton was outstanding against the Sharks at the weekend.

Irish journalist Gerry Thornley joined Monday Night Rugby to discuss Jonathan Sexton and Leinster.

Leinster beat the Sharks 54-34 on Saturday.

It's unusual for Leo Cullen's side to concede so many points. But scoring 54 will please the coaching staff. Jonathan Sexton started his first URC game of the season. He was pivotal for Leinster's success in attack and was the best player on the field.

After a successful summer in New Zealand, Sexton came back to Leinster in great condition. He's 12 months out from a World Cup where Ireland need to perform and he will be the protagonist for anything good that they do.

But at his age, you always have to watch for when he might suddenly drop off.

Gerry Thornley noted that not only did Sexton play brilliantly at the weekend, but he was constantly talking to the referee while doing so. That's a good sign for Sexton, it's a sign that he's energized and focused. He's always been talkative with referees but he walks the line of respect closely enough that he isn't punished for it.

"He's back to his vintage self in every sense," Thornley said.

"There was almost something encouraging about him having that running dialogue with the referee and always insisting on getting in the last word. I'd say he was a nightmare to teach in the classroom, wouldn't you.

"But it was also great to see him playing so well. Pulling the strings and the passing range. The goal-kicking. That chip for his own try, he's still a threat to the try line at 37. He's so vital.

"He's still the most important player in Leinster and certainly the most important player in Irish rugby."

Andy Farrell will keep picking Sexton moving forward so long as he's healthy. If he continues to play like this for the next 12 months, he will be picked on merit and not name recognition alone. Ireland need Sexton. Leinster need Sexton.

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Ireland Rugby Jonathan Sexton Leinster Rugby Leo Cullen Stuart Lancaster