Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 19 January 2022

'It'll be 23 of us against 40,000': Sexton taking lesson from Saracens for raid in Glasgow's back garden

Leinster’s captain is ready to make a mark after a not-very-enjoyable stint on the bench last week.

Sexton enjoys a training drill with Jack Conan, Nick McCarthy and Josh van der Flier in Celtic Park today.
Sexton enjoys a training drill with Jack Conan, Nick McCarthy and Josh van der Flier in Celtic Park today.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

LEINSTER CAPTAIN JOHNNY Sexton is relishing the task of taking on Glasgow Warriors in front of a raucous home crowd when tomorrow’s Pro14 final goes down for decision (kick-off 18.30, TG4, eir Sport).

The out-half was the target of many Glasgow fans’ ire when he visited Scotstoun for a Champions Cup pool clash last season, and Dave Rennie is hoping that ‘deafening’ atmosphere can be multiplied in a bigger stadium.

Last season in Scotstoun, Sexton didn’t hesitate to fan the flames with a fist-pump towards the stands after slotting a touchline conversion on the stroke of half-time. On the eve of a Pro14 decider with upwards of 42,000 tickets sold and minimal reports of blue-clad travellers, Sexton says he is looking to the example of the European champions.

Saracens’ path to the final included a win in Glasgow and also in a Ricoh Arena dominated by Munster supporters at the quarter-final stage and Leinster’s playmaker-in-chief is intent on relishing the challenge of Celtic Park.

“We have to try and cherish that, don’t we? I think Saracens are a great example over the years of a team that have thrived in other teams’ back gardens. We need to try and take a little bit of that into tomorrow.

It’ll be 23 of us against, probably, 40,000.

“I don’t know how many Leinster fans will make it over having put their hands in their pockets to come to Newcastle. We probably let them down there a little bit and want to repay them.

“It’ll be a tough challenge for us, but one we’re looking forward to.”

Thirst for trophies aside, Sexton’s drive to perform this week will only be heightened by his return to the starting line-up after a much-discussed role as a replacement in the semi-final win over Munster.

Leo Cullen was at pains to contest the feeling that his captain was ‘dropped’, with the toll of the Champions Cup final seven days earlier having a considerable bearing in the call, but that did not make the bench berth any more enjoyable for the world player of the year.

“It was tough. When you do sit on the bench you have so much respect for the guys who do it regularly. It is a horrible job to do.

Jonathan Sexton Sexton facing the press in Celtic Park today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“You are probably more relaxed leading up the game and then the game starts and you are a bag of nerves. You feel like you’ve got no energy when you’re doing the warm-up and then you try and come on and get your second wind.

“When you are lucky enough to start a lot of games, you really appreciate it. Look, it was well mapped out, it was well planned, Leo does an unbelievable job in planning out our whole season for our whole squad and getting us when he can and trying to manage us.

“I would have loved to play from the start but it was great for Ross (Byrne) because he has got us to this position,” adds Sexton, who will play for just the sixth time in this season’s Pro14.

Gavan Casey is joined by Ryan Bailey and Andy Dunne to look ahead to Saturday’s Pro14 final, look at whether Joey Carbery’s move has paid off and Jack Conan talks about how his body is holding up.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

About the author:

Sean Farrell

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel