Johnny Sexton has compared Ireland debutante Craig Casey to England rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson after his first game in a green shirt.
Casey replaced Jamison Gibson-park at scrum-half after 63 minutes and showed off his trademark speedy delivery, keeping the Italian defence on their toes late on in the game.
💬 “They would have all been over, all 25 cousins! It’s disappointing they can’t be here, but they’ll all be at home watching.” 👊🟢
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 27, 2021
“We have come in for some flack over the last few weeks but internally as a group I don’t think we have ever been more confident about where we are going and what we can produce,” Sexton said.
“I mean that properly. With the coaches that we have and the leadership group coming out of their shells, this group is on the right trajectory. I properly believe that.
“Those two guys are going to play a huge part in that. Just their character.”
‘It is inspiring for the rest of the group’
Sexton was particularly complimentary of the young Munster scrum-half’s attitude, comparing him to Rugby World Cup winning fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.
“Craig Casey, I didn’t know him that well obviously – I had never played with him – but his attitude is…I don’t think I have ever come across anyone, it kind of reminds me what I read about Jonny Wilkinson.
“That’s the only person I can relate him to. It is inspiring for the rest of the group and for someone like me, at this stage in my career, I like to be last off the pitch and I am never last off the pitch with him around. He has been brilliant.
“And Ryan was outstanding when he came on. He brought some energy, he is an incredible athlete.”
Ireland have risen to third place in the Six Nations table thanks to the win in Rome, as well as England’s loss, and will hope to get a second successive win when they take on Scotland in Edinburgh in two weeks’ time.