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Farrell praises Sexton for 'super job' as Ireland captain during Six Nations

The 35-year-old took over from Rory Best for the Six Nations earlier this year.

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell praised Johnny Sexton for doing a “super job” in his first campaign as captain while underlining that the 35-year-old needs to show good form and remain injury-free in order to continue in the role.

Sexton took over from the retired Rory Best as captain for this year’s 2020 Six Nations, leading Ireland to wins over Scotland and Wales before a defeat to England at Twickenham in the side’s most recent fixture.

jonathan-sexton-celebrates-his-try Sexton celebrates a try against Scotland. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Sexton himself previously highlighted that the captaincy would be reviewed on a campaign-by-campaign basis and it will be intriguing to find out if he retains the role heading into this autumn, when Ireland finish off the Six Nations before playing in a new Eight Nations competition.

Speaking yesterday, Farrell was positive about Sexton’s performances as skipper during his side’s three Six Nations games earlier this year, as well as highlighting that the out-half continued to lead during the recent lockdown.

“We were all talking about how sensational he was in the first two games and obviously it didn’t go well for the team and Johnny being a central figure of that, he puts pressure on himself in that regard,” said Farrell.

“Out of the three games, how he handled the captaincy, how he handled himself, how he’s learned more about himself throughout that period, I think it’s been invaluable for him.

“I thought he did a great job, certainly, as captain. I know he has continued to lead through this period as well, as far as we’ve been in touch regarding the leadership group on numerous occasion. He’s continued to lead and have a thirst for learning to lead throughout this time as well.”

Asked directly whether Sexton will be the Ireland captain this autumn, Farrell said form and fitness will be vital but praised the Leinster man again.

“I thought he did a super job and he is going to continue to do a super job but like all captaincies, and as all captains know, injury prevention is certainly a key factor and form has to come into it and Johnny is more aware than anyone else.

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andy-farrell-and-jonathan-sexton Farrell praised Sexton's work as captain. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“That’s his competitive spirit anyway, that’s in him and he has certainly got some big games coming up before the international season kicks off.”

Sexton and other senior players have spoken optimistically about their hopes that the extended break from the physical demands of matches during the lockdown will increase their longevity, and Farrell has no doubt the two-time Lions tourist will be keen to play on for years to come.

“You know with Johnny, you know that he’s hungry to keep fighting to get more honours and get better and to keep playing for his country.

“He’s certainly never going to be one to give up that fight is he? It’s in him, it’s installed inside him, it’s the way that he is. He hates coming second best. He hates losing.

“Speaking to him on numerous occasions throughout this period, he has been seeing this as an opportunity for him to rest and recuperate but to do some thinking in and around where he wants to go over the next seasons as well.

“I’m sure he would have used this time very wisely indeed and he’ll be looking forward to getting back on 22 August [for Leinster against Munster].”

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