herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Ford: Sexton not the only weapon in Irish armoury

George Ford
George Ford

George Ford has warned England not to fall into France's trap of targeting Johnny Sexton at all costs in the pivotal Six Nations clash against Ireland in Dublin.

France sent battering-ram Mathieu Bastareaud down Sexton's channel relentlessly on February 14, only for the British and Irish Lions fly-half to wrap up the Toulon centre more often than not.Sexton copped a split eyebrow and a black eye from two clashes of heads, but suffered no lasting effects on his return after a 12-week concussion lay-off as Ireland edged out France 18-11.

Ford's elementary rugby education came at the hands of stalwart Ireland half-backs Peter Stringer and Ronan O'Gara: the 21-year-old admitted he can now complete his rise to Test prominence by emulating Sexton's poise.

"It's definitely not just a case of stop Sexton and you stop Ireland at all I don't think," said Ford, ahead of the potential Six Nations decider.

BRILLIANT

"I think he's a brilliant player, you saw that against France: after being out for 12 weeks to come back and play like that, he drove Ireland to that win.

"He's just massively influential in that team, everything goes through him.

"He's got a brilliant rugby brain; he's a very smart player.

"The biggest thing is his desire to win and hunger to get the best out of the players on his team, but also his determination to go out and give his best as well.

"But their physicality is unbelievable with the pack they've got. The breakdown is always massive against them, and that's probably what decides the game.

"Rory Best and Sean O'Brien are brilliant over the ball, and brilliant at disrupting other teams' ball too," he added.

"So you've then got Simon Zebo, Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney at full-back, who are all massively dangerous as well."

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