McFadden says Sexton's standards on the pitch drive everybody on. Billy Stickland/INPHO
High Standards

'If Racing are going to say that he was cranky, maybe they need to look at themselves'

Fergus McFadden says he’s got no problems with Sexton’s on-pitch demeanour.

JOHNNY SEXTON’S LEINSTER and Ireland teammate Fergus McFadden has defended the Irish out-half after a former coach of his at Racing 92 described him as “uncontrollable” and “hyper sensitive”.

Racing 92 coach Laurent Labit made the claims in an interview with French newspaper Midi Olympique, who were profiling the Irishman ahead of Sunday’s meeting with France.

However, his provincial and international teammate Fergus McFadden believes that given the stakes this weekend in Cardiff, it may just be a case of mind games from the French side.

“It’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek I think, you have to take it with a pinch of salt with the week that’s in it, they could just be trying to wind them up,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of World Egg Day in Dublin yesterday, McFadden said that while Sexton’s standards are high on and off the pitch, the comments from France may say more about Racing than they do about Sexton.

Sophie Spence and Fergus McFadden Fergus McFadden and Sophie Spence joined with Bord Bia to celebrate today's World Egg Day. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“If Racing are going to say that he was cranky, maybe they need to look at themselves and say their standards aren’t high enough, maybe he was cranky because they weren’t playing well enough and  training well enough.

“If Johnny is cranky back in Leinster, he’s cranky for a reason. Hopefully he isn’t too often – generally it’s for things we’ve done badly – but it drives people on, so there’s nothing wrong with it.”

The Leinster back added that it’s become an occupational necessity for out-halves to be demanding on the pitch.

And with Sexton so pivotal to Ireland’s back to back wins against France in recent seasons, he believes the claims may have been designed to disrupt the Irish out-half.

“At times, he can be cranky with the guys on the pitch, but it’s not a bad thing. I don’t really see how it’s bad for him to be cranky and demanding high standards.

“I think all the best out-halves do. You see Rog, he used to do it as well, the best out-halves do it and Johnny has that side to his game.

“He’s so important, there’s no getting away from it. Johnny is the fulcrum of the Irish performances. You look back at the ones that have happened; when we beat France over in Paris for the Six Nations we won two years ago.

“He’s a massive part to the team playing well and they probably do know that and maybe they’re under pressure to try stick some stuff like that out in the media.”

With no more than one score between the sides in each of Ireland’s two wins against France in recent years, McFadden is expecting another tight game in Cardiff this weekend.

Six penalties were enough to get Ireland over the line against Phillipe Saint-Andre’s side in February, and McFadden expects Ireland to have plenty more opportunities off the tee, and will take it, “by two or three points”.

IrelandÕs Jonathan Sexton kicks a penalty Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

“The French are sloppy, they’re indisciplined. I think if we can hold onto the ball in their half they’ll give away penalties. They give away penalties the whole time. Their discipline has been really bad the last few years.”

While McFadden has been keeping himself primed in the event that Joe Schmidt’s side pick up injuries, like most people he’s been enjoying the perks of midweek rugby on TV during the pool stages of the competition.

Ominously enough, one of the sides he has been impressed with is Ireland’s potential World Cup quarter final opponents Argentina.

With a squad full of young talent being fed on the Rugby Championship, McFadden says they’ve arguably been more impressive than New Zealand in the pool stages, making them a daunting first prize for Sunday’s winners.

“I remember when we went over to them on that two test tour (2014). I remember so may young heads on their team and going, ‘who are these guys? I’ve never heard of these guys before’.

“But he’s (Daniel Hourcade) obviously had a plan in fairness to him because some of these guys like that second row Lavanini and others have played in the Rugby Championship, and there’s a young crop coming through in Argentina that are playing outstandingly well.

“They’ve put in probably some of the best performances of any team. That thumping they gave to Georgia in Gloucester was really impressive.

“On paper, it’s probably easier than New Zealand but arguably they’re playing better than New Zealand.”

“Fergus McFadden and Sophie Spence joined with Bord Bia and sports nutritionist Daniel Davey to celebrate World Egg Day and to raise awareness of the versatility and nutritional benefits of eating eggs as part of a healthy, balanced diet. The trio also highlighted that eggs are beneficial for fitness fans and athletes due to their high protein content and essential amino acids which aid muscle building and recovery after training. Check out for delicious egg recipes developed by Daniel Davey.”

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