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'That’s Johnny, we’re a bit used to it. That’s his way of communicating it'

Ireland’s out-half has faced some criticism for his show of annoyance against Italy.

SOME CRITICS HAVE an issue with the manner in which Johnny Sexton expresses his frustration on the rugby pitch, but the Ireland out-half won’t be changing at the age of 33.

Sexton’s latest show of annoyance came as he was replaced in Ireland’s win over Italy in the Six Nations two weekends ago, with the Leinster man visibly upset at his team’s inability to retain the ball in Rome.

Jonathan Sexton after the game Sexton was frustrated in Rome. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Ireland vice-captain has faced some criticism in the wake of that Ireland victory, with the suggestion being made that Sexton’s visible frustration may add to the pressure felt by team-mates.

However, those within the Ireland camp are well accustomed to Sexton’s mannerisms and deny that it has a negative effect on the players around him.

“No, I don’t think so,” said Ireland fullback Rob Kearney when asked if Sexton’s shows of frustration impact on team-mates.

“That’s Johnny, isn’t it? We’re a little bit used to it. We all get very frustrated and we all show our frustration in different ways. I’ve played with Johnny for 15 odd years now so maybe I’m not the one to ask but, certainly, I don’t think it’s having much of an effect on us.”

Asked if he has often been on the receiving end of Sexton’s annoyance, Kearney smiled.

“Weekly,” said the Leinster 15. “I think we all have.

“I think it’s good, it drives standards among us. Johnny understands the game very well and he’s very clear in terms of how he wants to play it. That’s his way of communicating it.”

Sexton and Ireland are focusing on cutting out the errors that stunted their attacking game against Italy last time out as they prepare for Sunday’s Six Nations clash against France.

Ireland lost their opening round clash with England in Dublin, denting their confidence, but have since recorded wins over Scotland and Italy while remaining short of their best form.

There have been major concerns about Ireland on the outside since the Italy performance, but Kearney says there is belief within Schmidt’s group that a strong showing is coming.

“There’s a lot of excitement, a little bit of nerves and frustration,” said Kearney. “But there’s a huge amount of confidence, as well, in our ability and in the type of game that we know we’re close to producing.

“We’re going to be filled with different emotions during the week but the important thing is that when the weekend comes, there’s a huge amount of excitement to go and play rugby.

“We’re at home in front of our fans in the Aviva playing for our country in the Six Nations, and that needs to be the overriding feeling for us at the weekend.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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