Andy Farrell has expressed his confusion over Johnny Sexton missing out on a British and Irish Lions call-up, after Warren Gatland opted for Marcus Smith instead.
Young England fly-half Smith was called up as an injury replacement for Finn Russell, who is currently struggling with an achilles issue, but could still feature for the Lions against the Springboks.
Ireland head coach Farrell was speaking at a press conference after his side’s win against the USA, and questioned what more Sexton needed to do to earn a Lions call-up.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 10, 2021
Andy Farrell on Johnny Sexton’s Lions snub.
“Johnny is fighting fit. He’s been in our camp, he is taking good care of himself, and Warren knows that,” Farrell said, via the Irish Examiner.
“I heard the comments, I think he made the comment that it was like-for-like with Finn Russell and Marcus Smith. I don’t know what to make of it, to be honest.
“Again, I can only go back to what we all know: who was the best fly-half in the competition, in the Six Nations? I don’t know what more Johnny could do really.”
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Sexton was a surprise omission from the Lions’ original 37-man squad, after playing a crucial role in Ireland’s final two wins against Scotland and England in the Six Nations.
The Ireland captain was assumed to be the Lions’ fourth-choice fly-half, but Gatland again made a surprise selection call when he announced Smith would be linking up with his squad in Cape Town.
While Sexton is certainly the more experienced and successful fly-half, Smith played brilliantly for Harlequins all season as the Londoners claimed the Gallagher Premiership title.
The 22-year-old only won his first cap for England eight days ago against the USA, but he has been highly-regarded for quite some time now, and should suit the style of play the Lions’ have employed so far on tour.