Devin Toner addresses the French comparing of Johnny Sexton with Zlatan Ibrahimovic 5 years ago

Devin Toner addresses the French comparing of Johnny Sexton with Zlatan Ibrahimovic

You would want some balls to give out to Devin Toner.

The lock is an absolute giant and to be honest we'd be scared to even ask him to pass the salt, but Johnny Sexton clearly has no bother ordering the giant second row or any of his Irish colleagues to get into position in the middle of a game.


Racing Metro coach Bernard Labit revealed on Monday that the club and the Irish No 10 did not always see eye-to-eye with everyone at the club, and that the Leinster man was sometimes more than a little bit abrasive with his team-mates at training and in games.

Labit revealed that Sexton's colleagues described him as the 'Zlatan Ibrahimovic of rugby' due to his behaviour and sometimes over-the-top anxiety around games.

And ahead of Sunday's World Cup clash with France in Cardiff, Devin Toner admitted that Sexton can often be a little bit cranky on the pitch:

“If lads aren't getting their roles right, but he's not going to do it for the sake of it, he'll be doing it because there's a reason behind it.

“It will be because lads aren't in the right position or knowing their roles, so I think it's hugely positive for the team.

“Obviously they weren't used to it, but we're glad to have him back to be honest. I've played with Sexto since schools rugby so I'm pretty used to it to be honest. They mustn't have been used to that, but it's a hugely positive thing for the team."

2015 Rugby World Cup Group D, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales 19/9/2015 Ireland vs Canada Ireland's Jonathan Sexton Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Toner admits that Sexton's vocal style could upset some colleagues, but for any Irish players who have worked with the No 10 for years, it's almost become second nature:

“Again if I'm not in the right place and I hear someone screaming at me, I know I'm not in the right place. And I'll think in my head 'I've got to get that right next time'.

“You know when you've done something wrong."

Sexton is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world and is a key part of Joe Schmidt's game plan. But does his style ever annoy annoy of his team-mates and cause friction. Has anyone ever spoken back to the outhalf?

“It has happened, but no examples really spring to mind to be honest.If it's a tight game lads would go back. I don't know whether they're trying to paint it out as a negative picture or not, but it's 100 per cent not. He drives the lads to be better, and you want to be better when you're playing with him."

Jonathan Sexton 14/3/2015
Toner admits the comparison to Ibrahimovic was a surprise and the squad would never think of Sexton as an egomaniac, as the Swede is sometimes seen:

“Well we couldn't even fathom that.

"He's just another player with us, he's not big-time, he's the 10 who runs the show. He's not big-headed, he's a very down-to-earth guy. So we don't recognise that at all.

"I think he grew into it. Back when we were playing schools rugby he probably wasn't as dominant, but now he's older and he's learned the game and grown into it."