Sexton expecting to be target

2014-11-21 09:07
Jonathan Sexton (File)

Dublin - Irish flyhalf and world player of the year nominee Jonathan Sexton expects his former Leinster coach Michael Cheika to instruct the Australia players to give him a real going over in the one-off rugby union test on Saturday.

The 29-year-old, who is to return to Leinster from French side Racing-Metro at the end of the present season, has previous experience of a Cheika-coached side targetting him when the British and Irish Lions played the Waratahs in 2013.

"It is a tactic of the opposition and I was targetted in the Lions game, they were obviously tuned in by him to wind me up," said Sexton, who will win his 47th cap on Saturday.

"I went to see him afterwards in the changing room and we talked it over. However, we ended up having a few laughs and the rest of the guys then came in and had a few beers.

"I expect to face some tough tackling again on Saturday."

Sexton, who masterminded Ireland's 29-15 win over South Africa a fortnight ago in a match where he took his test points haul to over 400, said it was perhaps more his fault their relationship at Leinster - Cheika coached them from 2005 to 2010 - had had its ups and downs.

"I was very eager to be in the first team and I used to go banging on his door to be selected," said Sexton, who was attempting to convince Cheika to drop the likes of Argentinian great Felipe Contepomi.

"When you're young you can be a bit delusional at times. We did have some run-ins but look he gave me my first chance.

"I remember when I was playing for Leinster Under-20s and I came off. He came down from the stands, I had never met him before, and he slapped me on the shoulder and said 'well done I will see you at training next week with the senior squad'."

Sexton, who eventually replaced Contepomi full-time in 2009 after a standout performance in the European Cup win over Leicester when the Argentine was injured, says Cheika and Ireland coach Joe Schmidt -- who took over at Leinster when Cheika left for Stade Francais -- share some similarities.

"They are both fiery in their own way, and I like that, and both desperate to win," said Sexton.

"They both like teams to play with the ball in hand. They are certainly the two coaches who have made the biggest impression on me."

Sexton, who went on to win two further European Cups under Schmidt, said that Cheika would obviously be able to give the Wallaby players an inside track on several of the Irish team.

"'Cheiks' will probably give them the ins and outs, the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish players he knows," said Sexton.

"However, it is important we don't get too bogged down with the Cheika factor and focus on ourselves."

Sexton, who has rugby union running through his blood as uncle Ronnie played for Ireland too, conceded that he had even helped Cheika out ahead of the Wallabies game against Wales.

"I texted him when he was appointed to the job (in October after Ewen McKenzie stepped down) and congratulated him. I also texted him and gave him some inside information on the Wales players before their match," said Sexton.

Sexton, who does not regret his sojourn in France and hopes to return having helped Racing-Metro win a trophy, said while being nominated for the world player of the year was an honour it was not pertinent to his task on Saturday.

"I'm not thinking about it too much," he said.

"To be honest I was pretty shocked. Mike Brown was player of the Six Nations and Andrew Trimble was Irish player of the year and yet I was the only northern hemisphere player to be nominated.

"It is a great honour but I regard it as being an honour for the team's performance this year."

Read more on:    jonathan sexton  |  rugby


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