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Ronan O’Gara: Johnny Sexton is reading the game quicker than four years ago


Ronan O’Gara believes Johnny Sexton is reading the game quicker than he was four or five years ago at the age of 37.

Despite his advancing age and his propensity to get injured, Sexton remains arguably Ireland’s most important player, as he again proved during the tour of New Zealand.

Sexton started all three test matches against the All Blacks and was crucial to his country’s success in the second and third encounters.

Former Ireland out-half Ronan O’Gara was speaking on Off The Ball and argued that Sexton is reading the game even quicker than he was in 2018, when he was named as the World Rugby Player of the Year.

Ronan O’Gara on Johnny Sexton.

“Johnny feeds off people writing him off. I think he’s showing that but he needs to seek his own motivation going forward as well because he’s playing the game brilliantly at the minute,” O’Gara said.

“He’s reading it a lot quicker than even four or five years ago. It’s not easy to do that and he backed up the first test, the second test and third at 37 years of age. Doing that is a huge feat.

“To be able to do that speaks volumes for where his mentality is at the minute. You can see he’s very happy with the environment, very happy with the coaching group.

“Everything seems to be aligning and that’s when you see the number 10 in their best vein. When the camp is buzzing your 10 looks better than he actually is and when it’s the opposite he looks worse than he actually is.

“There’s no doubt that Johnny’s individual game is very strong at the minute but I think what is also important for me to say is that the coaching group has the environment and the team humming.”

The Ireland veteran is nearing the end of his career.

Sexton will hang up his boots in roughly 15 months’ time, having announced that he will retire after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The 37-year-old will retire with no shortage of medals in his collection, although he has never made it past the quarter-finals at the World Cup, nor has any other Irishman.

A test series victory against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil is an enormous achievement which Sexton is unlikely to have even had on his to-do list, although the World Cup is now the firm priority for him and his teammates.

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