It has been 12 months of ups and downs for Irish fly-half Johnny Sexton. In late May last year he won the RaboDirect Pro 12 final in his last match for former team Leinster and this was followed by a Series win with the British & Irish Lions down in Australia. In their final Autumn test of the year against the All Blacks, his Ireland side were on the verge of a famous victory over the reigning World Champions, only to to suffer defeat with the last kick of the game. Ireland did not let this phase them though and Sexton went on to score 66 points during the 2014 Six Nations and help his country to the Championship. His club season with Racing Metro ended with a semi-final defeat to eventual winners Toulon.
We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to ask Sexton a few questions about his rugby and here is what he had to say:
Are you looking forward to Ireland’s upcoming tour of Argentina?
A lot of people think I might be tired at this stage of the season but I have had a lot of rest since Christmas time. I am really excited about touring again with Ireland and hopefully earning a couple more caps. No Irish team has won a series in Argentina so its a chance for us to make a little bit of history,
It must feel like a long year of rugby off the back of the successful British & Irish Lions tour?
Yeah of course it has been a really long season. It has just been a continuation from last season as after the Lions I went straight to Paris after a short break and the season began straight away. It wasn’t ideal not having a pre-season to physically prepare but I have had a bit of time off since Christmas which has really helped me.
How have you found your first year in France playing for Racing Metro?
After a really slow start things started to really improve, especially after Christmas time. We finished the season really well but came up slightly short against a very good Toulon team. We have signed well for next year so hopefully we can take that next step.
What are the main differences between the Top 14 and the RaboDirect League?
The fact that there is relegation makes the league a lot tougher. In the Rabo towards the back end of the season the top teams might have a couple of easy games against teams that have nothing to play for, whereas in France every game is difficult as the teams near the bottom are fighting for their lives to stay up.
How is your French progressing?
It is improving thankfully. I find that if I am in Paris for a long period I begin to get really good but when I go back to Ireland for a while I go backwards. It takes a bit of work by yourself to get good as well as the French classes we do in the club so I have been doing a lot by myself in the evenings or when I get the time. It’s important in my position to be able to speak decent French to the rest of the team.
How long have you been wearing adidas boots?
Since I was 16. I got a pair of World Cups as a gift and absolutely loved them.
What made you pick the adidas Predator Incurza boot?
They are the best boot around for kicking. They feel great to play in and especially to kick in.
What do you look for in a pair of boots?
Comfort. It’s so important for me to feel comfortable on the pitch especially doing such an important job like place kicking.
Any favourite colours?
I always like the white ones the most.
Do you keep any old boots from special games?
I have my boots from the Lions tour to Australia. I wore the same boots for the whole tour and they were specially made by adidas with the lions badge and the Irish crest as well as my initials. Very nice touch by adidas so will hold onto them. Other than that I tend to give them to people after I have finished with them.
How do you wind down from training and rugby?
Just by doing the normal things that people do. Spend time with family and friends. Go to cinema, go to dinner. Try to play golf when I get the chance.
What is the main advice you would give any young aspiring fly-halves?
To work hard and to use the bad times as learning curves. Fly-half is a tough position to play so you have to take the highs and lows that go with playing that position. I got told by an old coach that the worst thing about playing fly-half is that you either get all the blame or all the glory.
Best advice ever given to you?
Never give up. Keep trying and you never know what will happen.