Romain Poite "brilliant to deal with" - Sexton
"Maybe I am wrong, but that's my decision".
When Johnny Sexton was made captain of the Irish team for the Six Nations, it made a lot of sense. It was a real 'not throwing the baby out with the bath water' type of announcement, it established Sexton as the most senior member of the squad not just in age, and considering the fearless competitor he is, it was logically sound.
Some raised questions about what we might term his "ruckside manner", in that he has the potential to get himself on the wrong side of referees and not converse with the man in the middle in a way that perhaps curries favour for his side. But, as mentioned above, it's rooted in that competitiveness, and invariably because he feels his side have been served an injustice.
There were a number of such high profile incidents in Ireland's 24-14 victory over Wales at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon. Some went their way, others not. Ireland saw a 5 metre attacking scrum wheeled and given against them, they queried a couple of passes in the build-up to Wales' first try, Josh van der Flier's eventual try was under suspicion, CJ Stander was pinged under Ireland's posts for being off his feet and then of course, the Hadleigh Parkes non-try. These all came in amongst a number of routine penalties against Ireland for holding onto the ball on the ground.
Sexton cut, at times, an extremely frustrated figure and seemed to be getting short shrift from Romain Poite, who it must be said did not have the strongest of games. But, speaking after the game, Sexton clarified his stance on a number of those incidents when queried about his relationship with Poite throughout the game;
"A few decisions were clear, when they got on the ball, for example, and we just weren't accurate enough with a couple of breakdowns. Some frustration obviously that we didn't take a couple of those chances early on, I suppose Tadhg was a bit frustrated with the scrum that we had 5 metres out, our ball, we obviously would have no reason to try and turn it like that. So it's just asking the questions, and in fairness to Romain he was brilliant to deal with, we had good conversations. I think obviously with the try they got, I just wanted to make sure that they checked both passes and not just the last one, that's all that was about. I thought it was ok."
Ireland now have a rest week, along with the other five nations, before they travel to Twickenham in two weeks time to face Eddie Jones' England side.