Brian O'Driscoll puts into words what whole nation is feeling about Johnny Sexton
A fascinating insight on one legend of the game from another.
Johnny Sexton's Six Nations career will draw to a close on Saturday evening at the Aviva Stadium, as Andy Farrell's Ireland host the old enemy, England, in the Grand Slam decider.
Having already steered Ireland to Grand Slam glory back in 2018, sealing what would be just Ireland's fourth ever Slam title would certainly be an ending befitting the illustrious career enjoyed by Sexton to date.
With a chance to also break former foe Ronan O'Gara's Six Nations point scoring record, this St. Patrick's weekend could be the Leinster fly half's crowning achievement in a green jersey.
O'Driscoll on Sexton's stellar career:
Speaking to SportsJOE ahead of Johnny Sexton's Six Nation's swan song, his former Leinster and Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll was on hand to discuss his old teammate's unprecedented achievements.
Recalling Sexton's initial burst into the collective Irish rugby consciousness in the 2008/09 season, O'Driscoll remembers how it was the fly half's European performances which caught the eye of both players and coaching staff.
'Johnny Sexton was ready to be number one'
"The semi final and the final supercharged other people's belief in him being the correct choice", recounted Ireland's all-time leading try scorer.
Having the bide his time behind another mercurial ten in the shape of Argentinian Felipe Contempomi, O'Driscoll reflected on his breakthrough campaign:
"Johnny was a coming player of course. Felipe was moving on to Toulon that year because Johnny was ready to be number one."
With Sexton always keen to dispel the thought that he claimed his role as Leinster's starting ten thanks to a Contepomi injury, O'Driscoll concurs, saying that "Johnny was ready to be number one. He had always been a big believer in his own ability".
Backing up that belief in his own ability, Sexton has since gone on to claim four Champions Cup titles and six league wins in the blue of Leinster, alongside three Six Nations victories and series triumphs in both Australia and New Zealand whilst donning the green of Ireland.
To have amassed such a CV over the course of his 17 year career, Johnny Sexton will retire following this autumn's World Cup, as one of Ireland's most decorated player's of all time.
However, whilst O'Driscoll recalls that "Coaching staff and us as players always had a clear idea that he was a player on the rise", that even they have been astounded at the unprecedented levels of success achieved by the fly half.
"I maybe didn't envisage him getting to the meteoric heights which he has subsequently transpired to achieve, but we knew he was a very good player", said the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour captain.
Those meteoric heights could be surpassed even further this Saturday evening, as Sexton looks to add yet another iconic performance to what has already been a highlight-reel career.
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