‘Luckily it didn’t make it to a scrap. I can’t imagine Johnny’s the best street fighter.’
Jamie Roberts has recalled how lucky Johnny Sexton was to avoid a fight with British and Irish Lions teammate Richard Hibbard after tearing into the Wales hooker during training.
Sexton is well known for getting agitated with teammates during training sessions as the Leinster and Ireland captain expects the best from those around him.
Former Lions centre Roberts was speaking about Sexton on the RugbyPass Offload podcast and fondly remembered an occasion when the Irishman let loose at hot-headed hooker Hibbard on the 2013 tour of Australia.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 17, 2021
Jamie Roberts on Johnny Sexton’s outburst at Lions teammate Richard Hibbard.
“Luckily it didn’t make it to a scrap. I can’t imagine Johnny’s the best street fighter,” Roberts commented.
“I’d love Hibbs to tell this story because he loves it as well. I don’t think Hibbs had ever experienced a player speaking to him in training like Johnny did.
“Look, Johnny’s a competitive bloke, but it felt quite personal towards Hibbs. I think Hibbs messed up one of the plays and we’re talking about training three days before a deciding Lions test match, so it was quite an important session.
“The evils Hibbs gave Johnny, it’s hard to put into words. Fair play to Hibbs, he did his utmost just to grit his teeth and hold his nerve. But if he had his time again I think he’d probably lose it.”
Roberts on Sexton’s competitive nature.
Sexton and Hibbard both started in the final test against the Wallabies in 2013, and the Lions ultimately inflicted a 25-point beating on Australia to win the series 2-1.
While the Irish fly-half’s outburst may not have been the best for his relationship with the Welshman, there’s no doubt that the Lions put in their best performance of the series in that final test in Sydney.
Roberts, who played with Sexton at Racing 92 as well as for the Lions, believes that there is a method to the Irishman’s madness.
“We won the test match [against Australia]. I played with Johnny at Racing and I know what he’s like. He’s spoken to me on many occasions like that as well,” Roberts said.
“If that’s what brings out the best in those around you and that’s how he feels and he wants to win – he’s a winner and he’s won quite a bit in his career – it obviously works.
“But yeah, we all have our own little ways of pushing people’s buttons, don’t we?”