He has long been compared to the maestro that came before him Ronan O’Gara but Jonathan Sexton is beginning to rubber stamp his credentials as the most integral part of Joe Schmidt’s side and the best player in the Northern Hemisphere. Sexton was shortlisted for World player of the year, a decision that many in the rugby world questioned at the time and he may not have won it but was he to win it this year few people would have any complaints.
Sexton arrived on the International scene with the almost impossible job of replacing Ireland’s beloved ROG, the best tactical kicker and place kicker we may have ever seen but Sexton has stepped into the role and made it his own. The Racing Metro man has gone from making fans sweat as he stepped up to the kicking tee to everyone almost turning away after the award of a penalty anywhere in the opposition half in expectance that the number 10 will slot it over.
Not only is Sexton a well assured place kicker these days but his all round play is nothing short of brilliant. His performance against England in defence was impeccable, he appeared to be everywhere and his tackle on George Ford in which he floored his opposite number was a perfect example of the effect Sexton was having on the game. Not only was his defensive game on point but his playmaking on the day was fantastic, everytime he got the ball near either wing you felt he was about to make something happen.
Jonny Sexton is now well established as the best number 10 in the northern hemisphere and may well have a claim for best in the world should he keep his form going into the World Cup. When looking at his performances against France and England it must also be noted that he had the weight of almost an entire country on his back and he was not fazed in the slightest, he accepted the responsibility and played like a leader out on the field, the sign of a great player.
Its not just Irish people who are raving about the kicker, English media were so impressed by the performance of Sexton against their own side that the Telegraph suggested that Sexton could lead the Irish to World Cup glory. New Zealand media who are also paying a lot of attention to the Six Nations have been very impressed with the Irish side as a whole and in particular Sexton but of course were not getting too carried away with the thoughts of the Irish side being any real threat to their World Cup crown.
The 29-year-old looks almost destined to be named player of the tournament in this years Six Nations should he and Ireland continue their form in the remaining two games. Joe Schmidt has instilled a great confidence in Sexton and the whole Irish team that has led to them playing above the level anyone expected. With the World Cup just around the corner Sexton is peaking at just the right time and who knows by the end of the year this article could read; Sexton, the best in the world.