| 3.5°C Dublin

cheika tips his hat to old protégé

Australia coach Michael Cheika sees Ireland's Jonathan Sexton as the complete out-half.

"He has aggro', he doesn't like losing. He loves winning. He is competitive. He has skills. He practices hard. He is cool under pressure. Like, what else do you want in a player?"

Cheika and Sexton had a fractious relationship as two alpha-males at loggerheads over Cheika's preference for Felipe Contepomi at Leinster, especially during the last two years of his reign.

"Just because I didn't pick him sometimes didn't mean I butted heads with him," he disagreed.

It is in the history books that Sexton's arrival onto the European stage was reserved for that 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final when Contepomi went down with a leg injury.

Enter Sexton. Exit Munster.

"You can never just pick that exact time, we are not magicians," said Cheika.

"He was ready and probably ready to come into the team earlier that year, but that's where you have to just make some judgement calls at the time. You can't get it one hundred per cent right.

"In any team, and particularly in that position, you have to players who can come in and do the job when required, and particularly though injury, and that's precisely what happened then.

"That struggle to get there almost gives you more hunger to stay there for longer, especially with the playmakers because they are such important players on the team."

During Cheika's unsuccessful stay at Stade Francais, he even tried to raid Leinster for two of his former players.

"I know he went to Racing, but, when I went to Stade Francais, he was the first person I wanted to get over to play there. Him and Seán O'Brien.

"That just about sums up what I think of him. He has such a competitive spirit."


Privacy