Ronan O’Gara Explains His Comments That Upset Johnny Sexton This Week

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Compliment.

Former Ireland international Ronan O’Gara has explained his comments this week about Johnny Sexton and the Irish captaincy that seemed to upset the 34-year-old Leinster outhalf.

O’Gara spoke to Off The Ball about Sexton and his role as captain, questioning the decision to give him the captaincy in the first place given his position as outhalf in the team.

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“There’s a lot on his plate with the captaincy, I wasn’t a fan of it [from] day one as I’ve said here,” said O’Gara.

“I think what he has brought to the jersey and to the position [it is] absolutely a huge honour and is entitled to have that on his CV. 

“But for me, a team is better suited with another leader as your captain as opposed to your number 10 because he’s the on-field leader anyway.” 

Sexton wasn’t impressed with the comments and reacted in a press conference later in the week.

“I got some great advice recently. When you’re leading in an orchestra, you’ve got to turn your back on the audience,” said Sexton.

“That’s something you’ve got to live by and, sometimes, when it’s going well, you can fall into bad habits and have a little peek at what’s going on in the audience.

“I thought ROG was coaching at La Rochelle,  I don’t know why he’s talking about us.”

But ahead of England’s Six Nations clash with Wales on Saturday, O’Gara clarified his comments, stating there was no need for “hysterics” and that it was “more of a compliment” than anything.

“It was more a compliment, but if you read the headline it’s kind of that you feel that he’s not the right person,” O’Gara said.

“When you go through the team I think he deserves and has every right to be the captain. That wasn’t the point all.

“From my experience of being in the hot pressured situations which may only arrive once a season, or may not at all, I was very lucky in the fact that if it was Brian O’Driscoll or Paul O’Connell, they were standout captains anyway.

“It was more the idea that if there was a 50/50 decision to be made, in terms of kicking at goal or kicking for the corner, sometimes inside of you you go ‘I’ll go to the line’ when 13 others could be screaming ‘we need the points here, we need a breather, our front five are really tired’.”