Donncha O'Callaghan doesn't hold back on who should get the 10 shirt against France 4 years ago

Donncha O'Callaghan doesn't hold back on who should get the 10 shirt against France

It's the question on everyone's lips.

Undoubtedly, the main narrative which will surround the build-up to Ireland's clash with France at the Aviva Stadium will be who will start at out-half.

Of course, much of this will depend on whether Johnny Sexton will come through the week's training sessions with no ill-effects.

The Irish management are optimistic though, with head coach Joe Schmidt stating last week that he is "quietly confident" over the 31-year-old's availability.

With Sexton coming through a running session last week, something which he failed to do in the build-up to the Scotland game, there is more optimism surrounding his fitness.

With this however, poses a serious question. If deemed fit, should Sexton start ahead of Paddy Jackson?

The questions surrounding Jackson's reliability when it comes to steering Ireland to victories in the toughest of Test match conditions can no longer be asked.

He has proven to the Irish management and the Irish rugby public, that he is well able to do this.


So, the question is whether you risk an under-cooked Sexton in what is likely to be a highly attritional and physical affair in Dublin on Saturday.

This topic inevitably arose in the latest episode of SportsJOE's rugby podcast, The Hard Yards, where former Munster and Ireland international, Donncha O'Callaghan, put no doubt in anyone's mind regarding who should start against the French.

"I think he (Jackson) played really well in the Scottish game, granted it maybe took him 20-30 minutes to get into the game but I thought he played really well.

"I thought he was great against Italy and I think for the squad and how camp runs, I think its important that he stays there."

O'Callaghan isn't privy to the fact that Sexton, when fit, is Ireland's best option in this position but he reckons that Sexton needs to further prove himself in the surrounds of Carton House that he is ready for Test match rugby.

Also, the "how camp runs" comment is interesting, as O'Callaghan alludes to the fact when someone is performing as well as Jackson has been, then they should remain in the team.

"I think Paddy has steered the ship a bit, I think 100% you need people to boss the pack around the place and Johnny will do that, if he steps in there’s going to be no dip in standards but I think for the overall squad morale, to see a guy come in and who has performed well, sometimes you have to back him so I’d be interested to see how this plays out."

I think O'Callaghan speaks for us all when he says he is interested in how all of this will play out...