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'Johnny is an antagonistic person' - BOD on Sexton's 'confrontational' captaincy style

O’Driscoll believes it can sometimes have a ‘negative knock-on connotation’ for the team as a whole.

Sexton and O'Driscoll celebrate Ireland's 2014 Six Nations win.
Sexton and O'Driscoll celebrate Ireland's 2014 Six Nations win.

FORMER IRELAND AND Leinster captain Brian O’Driscoll feels that Johnny Sexton’s captaincy style comes across as “confrontational” and that his “antagonistic” character doesn’t help in his dealings with referees.

Speaking on Off The Ball last night, O’Driscoll and fellow Ireland legend and ex-skipper Keith Wood took a closer look at the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year.

The Leinster 10 has come under scrutiny over the past few days after his side’s defeat to Munster in a heated Thomond Park battle.

Sexton’s behaviour — both during play and towards referee Frank Murphy — has been criticised, with BOD sharing his thoughts on a player he lined out with for eight years:

“Johnny, he antagonised Frank Murphy a little bit early on,” he said.

“From a captaincy perspective, Johnny is an antagonistic type of person. He always has been. He’s fiery and that’s what makes him deliver time and time again, because he gets that out of himself.

“I don’t know if it always comes across well. It comes across as confrontational rather than conversational.

“That’s where the likes of a Rory Best comes into his own. Where irrespective of how irked he feels, you never really know how put out he is. He’s the only one that knows, he deals with it extremely well. When he’s disappointed, he parks it and off he goes.

“Whereas Johnny has a bit more of a heightened appetite for conflict and so, when he’s trying to get his point across — particularly with a baying crowd jeering and getting into Frank Murphy’s head — you’re fighting the cause at times. 

Jonathan Sexton and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate Sexton and O'Driscoll with the Pro12 title after Leinster's win in 2013. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“That side of the captaincy… because you’re the guy that’s trying to lead from the front, it does filter down to the rest of the team and has a sometimes negative knock-on connotation.”

Wood echoed O’Driscoll’s words that Sexton is fiery and that’s part of his personality, while backing him in his role despite his performance in Limerick.

“He’s got the credentials and he’s the guy that drives the team, whatever team he’s playing, that’s in his nature. I think he’ll have learned an awful lot from it [Saturday's game], and if he hasn’t, that would be the issue.

“He lost his composure. Rather than the captaincy part, it’s that losing the composure part that’s the most important for Johnny. You still want him to have an edge but you want him to have control on that edge. 

“You have to have a balance as captain, you can’t be the fieriest guy on the field. You can be unbelievably fiery but you have to have that switch to be cool and calm and collected — which he does as a player all the time. This is just another one. He didn’t have it, he wasn’t fully in control [as a captain]. He was unbelievably out of his comfort zone.”

You can watch the full show here:

Source: Off The Ball/YouTube

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Emma Duffy

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