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Dublin: 0 °C Sunday 18 March, 2018

'I think Sexton's salary is probably the same as all of ours put together'

Canada were impressed with the form of Ireland’s out-half yesterday.

CANADA WERE ON the receiving end of seven Ireland tries yesterday in Cardiff, but it was the performance of Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton that impressed them the most.

Kieran Crowley’s side move on to prepare for a clash with Italy next weekend, perhaps a little relieved that they won’t be facing an out-half of Sexton’s quality for the second game in a row.

IrelandÕs Jonathan Sexton Sexton was man of the match for Ireland.

The Leinster playmaker was withdrawn by Joe Schmidt after 55 minutes of Ireland’s 50-7 victory, but Sexton squeezed many high-class moments into that stint on the pitch.

“He’s not one of the best-paid rugby players in the world for nothing, is he?” said Crowley post-match at the Millennium Stadium. “I think his salary is probably the same as all of ours put together.”

Canada captain Jamie Cudmore interjected briefly to joke that, “I should have played 10,” before Crowley outlined why Sexton is so effective.

“With Johnny, it’s just that kicking game that he’s got and he gets the backs going so well, the team running so well,” said the Canada head coach.

His game management, he always creates a threat because he’s got either that kicking threat or the running threat, or giving the ball to others. Any team in the world would be happy to have him in their side and his goal-kicking is a bonus. He controlled the game pretty well.”

Wing DTH van der Merwe was superb for the Canadians, scoring in the second half, “one of those lucky ones and I just had to race (Ian) Madigan to the line,” according to the Scarlets man.

Though van der Merwe impressed in the wide channels for Canada, he found it extremely difficult to cover Sexton’s kicking game.

Jonathan Sexton Ireland's out-half was in promising form in Cardiff. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Johnny got man of the match and played so well,” said van der Merwe. “His kicking game is just outstanding. If you’re trying to watch his eyes, they don’t tell you where the ball is going. A couple of times he just rolled it out in the five-metre line.

“I think he’s definitely up there (as the best in the world), but the players around him make him a good player as well. He hits the guy next to him and loops around, and picks the right guy. He’s a good player and that’s why Leinster has brought him back.”

While tougher challenges lie ahead for Sexton, Schmidt and Ireland, the Canadians have no doubt that the Six Nations holders have a genuine chance of World Cup success.

Coming into the World Cup, they were always one of the teams that was going to push for the final,” said van der Merwe. “They looked sharp out there today.”

Crowley backed that sentiment up, wishing Schmidt – a man he formerly coached against back in New Zealand – well for the remainder of the tournament.

“They have a pretty rounded game,” said Crowley. “When they get to quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final maybe, it’s just one-off games. They are not European champions for nothing.”

Johnny Sexton’s scorching run over the try-line shows he’s back to his best

Ireland’s World Cup campaign up and running with bonus-point victory over Canada

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