Johnny Sexton makes rapid press conference remark when English reporter asks about Stuart Lancaster 4 years ago

Johnny Sexton makes rapid press conference remark when English reporter asks about Stuart Lancaster

Johnny Sexton on top form yet again.

The Leinster outhalf spoke superbly about pressure, nerves and destiny ahead of the Champions Cup final against Racing 92. Just 30 hours later he faced the press again with that cup sitting four feet away and a winners medal draped around his neck.

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Sexton was not the only Leinster player squeezed and pressured by a driven Racing side but he still found pockets of room to cause trouble. He kicked three from five penalties before a groin issue flared up and he ceded goal-kicking duties to Isa Nacewa. The move paid off as Nacewa kicked the final two penalties in a 15-12 win.

The hordes of Irish press at the San Mames had post-match questions about legacies, history and about just how bloody good James Ryan was.

Mid-way through the conference, an English reporter asked for the microphone and you could have put money on his first port of call - Stuart Lancaster.

The former England head coach has been instrumental in Leinster's success every since he answered the call from head coach Leo Cullen and team manager Guy Easterby, in autumn 2016, and agreed to come on-board.

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"It's been well documented that you gave Stuart a text or a call," the English reporter began. "What was it about him at that stage of his career did you think would be useful for Leinster?"

For many of the English journalists present in Bilbao, Lancaster is the story. Sexton's response was rapid and funny.

"Well, look, I obviously spoke to Leo and Guy Easterby before I sent the text. I didn't just randomly find his number!

"They knew about it. It wasn't divisive or anything."

When the laughter died down and Sexton, firing a quick look at a smiling Leo Cullen sitting next to him, went on to praise Lancaster some more.

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"If you know rugby and you looked at England, he did an unbelievable job with that team. When he was in charge, they won four out of five [in the Six Nations] two or three years in a row and got nothing. We won four out of five [with Ireland] a couple of seasons and won the cup. It's small margins."

"I always found when we played against England with him as coach," Sexton added, "we struggled at times and found it hard to defend against them and attack against. He played a big part of that.

"When you take some of the media reaction to him leaving England away, I thought he was an outstanding coach. I spoke to a couple of English guys - the Farrells mainly [Andy and Owen] - and they spoke highly of him. And that's why I text him, after Leo asked me."

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Great answer and a subtle dig at the what Sexton believes were the harsh words spoken and written about Lancaster after England's World Cup exit in 2015.

England's loss is definitely Leinster's gain.