Rugby | 2 months ago
Kieran Marmion could hear the English players calling out the hits on Johnny Sexton
Definitely premeditated then

The players knew what was happening.

It's a sign of Johnny Sexton's importance and in fact, greatness, that we are constantly speaking about how often he is targetted in matches.

When Sexton plays well, the team plays well and in most cases, the team wins.

It's that simple.

So it would be naive of us to think that teams shouldn't try to ruffle the feathers of one of Ireland's most important players.

It was clear after twenty minutes of Ireland's 13-9 win over England on Saturday evening that Sexton was going to be on the receiving end of some heavy challenges for the entire 80 minutes.

James Haskell.

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Maro Itoje.

Owen Farrell.

They were all at it.

So it does not come as much of a surprise when Kieran Marmion reveals that he could actually hear the English players calling out pre-emptive moves to put in heavy hits on Ireland's out half.

“I knew they would probably be trying to put me and Johnny under pressure,” Marmion told the media after the game.

“I could hear them at all the rucks, giving me a good bit of verbal pressure. You can hear them shouting, ‘I’m all over him, I’ve got him.’ I guess it’s just a way of putting people off."

In fact, before Itoje's hit on Sexton which you can see above, England captain, Dylan Hartley called out, "Sexton, Sexton", at a ruck. Moments later, Itoje smashes Sexton.

Marmion says that he expected the English to target both himself and his half-back partner but in the end, it cost the English, as they racked up a number of penalties.

“I guess it probably worked in our favour. They were giving away cheap penalties and Johnny has to try and wear that and get on with it."

It certainly did and the best thing about it all was that Sexton dusted himself down every single time and put in a class performance which helped guide Ireland to victory.

Click play below to check out episode 17 of The Hard Yards rugby podcast, featuring Jerry Flannery, Isaac Boss and SportsJOE's Pat McCarry with host Andy McGeady.

Read more about:

Ireland, Six Nations 2017, Johnny Sexton, England (rugby union), Kieran Marmion