Ronan O’Gara believes that Johnny Sexton is “clearly a better option” than Finn Russell or Dan Biggar in high pressure moments.
Sexton missed out on selection for this summer’s British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, as Scotland’s Finn Russell, Wales’ Dan Biggar and England’s Owen Farrell were all chosen ahead of him at fly-half.
While Sexton is the oldest of all the international fly-halves in Britian and Ireland, O’Gara argued in his column for the Irish Examiner that longevity and durability should not be considered when it comes to the Lions tour.
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“These things are totally subjective, but excluding Johnny Sexton doesn’t make sense to me from the only perspective that is important – the rugby perspective,” O’Gara explained.
“We are talking aboutsummer, nothing beyond that, and in that context and timeframe, he is clearly a better and more experienced option than Finn Russell or Dan Biggar in the moments when the pressure is ratcheted up against the world champions. Simple as.”
James Ryan loses out on versatility.
Sexton was far from the only surprising exclusion from Warren Gatland’s Lions squad, as fellow Ireland teammate James Ryan was left out after what has been an admittedly injury-plagued last few months for the Leinster lock.
In total, six second row players have been selected in the squad – Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson, England’s Maro Itoje, Johnny Hill and Courtney Lawes and Wales’s Alun Wyn Jones.
Of those six players, four of them have also played in the back row for their clubs and countries, something which was surely playing on Gatland’s mind.
No out-and-out blindside flankers have been selected in the Lions squad, as the likes of Beirne, Henderson, Itoje and Lawes will be available to fill in the number six shirt if needed.
While Ryan has rarely put a foot wrong in his career, the 24-year-old has only ever played in the second row, something which may have counted against him in regards to selection.