Brian O’Driscoll – ‘Johnny Sexton Needs To Alter His Style Of Play’

“We need him more than ever,”

Brian O’Driscoll reckons Ireland outhalf Johnny Sexton needs to be a little bit selfish and alter his style of play if he’s to continue playing at the highest level.

Sexton was forced off after just 29 minutes against Scotland on Saturday, with his aggressive style of play coming back to bite him. He was hit hard by the Scots on a number of occasions, partly down to his willingness to take the ball as close to the defensive line as possible.

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Ireland’s second try on Saturday was orchestrated by Sexton when he took a big hit from Scotland prop Alan Dell to put Jacob Stockdale through, a hit that O’Driscoll feels could have been partially avoided.

“It’s a very unusual thing for a number 10 of his age to be playing as aggressively as he does, and it is a testament to his bravery to take those shots; to really to go to the last second to create the holes for his teammates,” O’Driscoll told Off The Ball

“He probably could have given that pass [earlier]. He had fixed [Alan Dell] pretty early, but he wanted to make sure he was 100% committed to him. I think he has got to throw that half a second earlier, and take the chance that Stockdale will have enough to get through, and brace himself for the collision.”

“He threw the pass and left himself wide open. Scotland obviously had spoken beforehand every time he throws a pass, to smash him afterwards. You couldn’t argue with any of them. They were ‘committed’ but they knew what they were doing – they could have pulled out of them, but why would you?”

O’Driscoll doesn’t expect Sexton to completely change and become an “older” ten that stands deep in the pocket. He says Sexton just needs to alter his game slightly and start giving that pass “a fraction earlier” from now on.

“From a self-preservation perspective, he doesn’t have to get back into the pocket. That’s what the older 10s do – get deeper and deeper, ship it on and the centres have to do the hard yards.” O’Driscoll added.

“He just has to be a little bit selfish and look after himself by giving it a fraction earlier than he ordinarily would, because he is 33 and because we need him more than ever in the World Cup.”