Shane Jennings: I don't think Johnny Sexton has to change 5 months ago

Shane Jennings: I don't think Johnny Sexton has to change

Former Leinster captain Shane Jennings has said that he doesn't think that Leinster fly-half Johnny Sexton has to change after coming under fire for his performance against Munster.

Sexton was caught yanking former teammate Joey Carbery out of a scuffle and throwing the 23-year-old to the ground in a fiery interprovincial derby in Limerick last month.

Questions were raised over Sexton's demeanour and if he had the temperament to be captain but Jennings insists that his former teammate has been given the role by Leinster for what he does around the club on a daily basis.

"Johnny is Johnny, that's his personality," Jennings said at the Virgin Media Spring launch on Tuesday.

"The prototype of a captain you want very controlled, very calm and the ability to talk to an official whether you agree with him or not. It's very difficult. I think people are going "oh my god Johnny Sexton done that" we've known for years what he's like it's no surprise.

"It's a big learning curve for him, he'll look back and think do you know what maybe I could've handled that better, or do you know what no I actually couldn't have, that's who I am. I'm captain because the people know who I am so relax about it kind of thing.

"I'm of the opinion that the individual is there because it's not just because of one event, he's there because day in and day out what he does, what influence he has on the group, how he communicates and drives the group with the coaches as well as other senior players.

"You're going to be put under pressure as a captain and an individual. Can he do things better? Only Johnny's going to be able to answer that. From my point of view yeah you want a balance to it. You want to be able to discuss, communicate and converse with an official and being confrontational sometimes doesn't work.

"I think he knows that, he knows that more than anything. That's easier said than done especially when you're in Thomond Park and you're up against your biggest rivals and the heat is on. It's difficult but it's a good learning curve. I don't want Johnny to change. I think if you asked everyone else if they want Johnny to change they'd say no. He's got to be Johnny."

Jennings was a senior figure at Leinster when Sexton broke into the club's first team squad and the former Ireland flanker added that you could see that he had leadership potential from an early stage of his provincial career.

"Of course, because he's vocal," Jennings added.

"He puts himself out there to be accountable for certain things. He'll say, this is what we're going to do or this is what I'm going to do and he delivers. If someone says they're going to do something and they deliver, they get people behind them that's leadership.

"Leadership is also individual responsibility too, he does his own job. He makes sure that he gets his goal-kicks and his touch, his passing is excellent, he does his basics and his fundamentals so well whereas if you see someone individually executing what they should be doing that's leadership so lead yourself and then lead the team and he does that so so well.

"I've always seen it and I continue to see it. I believe he doesn't need to change. He needs to tweak things and learn and develop of course but he doesn't need to change his fundamentals."