Seven Ireland stars make Sam Warburton's Six Nations team of the tournament
"I'm a bit more risk averse so that is why I like Johnny Sexton."
Sam Warburton is picking a France star for his Player of the Championship but has seven Ireland men in his Six Nations team of the tournament.
The former Wales and Lions captain was tasked, along with John Barclay, in selecting his Best XV from the 2023 Six Nations.
While Barclay went for his old Scotland teammate Finn Russell in the 10 jersey, Warburton plumped for Johnny Sexton, with who he toured as a Lion with in 2013 and 2017. Warburton praised Sexton as the Irish "colonel" and told the BBC:
"I'm a bit more risk averse so that is why I like Johnny Sexton - because he is less risky and has less errors in his game."
The other Ireland stars included in that Sam Warburton XV were:
- Dan Sheehan
- Tadhg Furlong
- James Ryan
- Josh van der Flier
- Caelan Doris
- Hugo Keenan
The remainder of his team has three Scots, Italian blindside Sebastian Negri and four from runners-up France, including his pick for Player of the Championship, electric winger Damian Penaud.
Sam Warburton and John Barclay disagree on No.10
John Barclay, the former Scarlets and Scotland back-row, had six Ireland stars in his Six Nations Team of the Tournament, with five from France and four from Scotland.
"I love the way Finn Russell plays the game," said Barclay, as he explained why he went for the Scot over Johnny sexton. "I think it was a really important championship for Finn that he could come in and steer the team. There were some errors to his game but not as much to previous years and his approach to the game is fantastic."
Ireland full-back Hugo Keenan was Barclay's player of the tournament as his sheer consistency and class in Ireland's Grand Slam march. Barclay commented:
"It is so easy to give it to Antoine Dupont and his highlight reel would probably be better but you very rarely see Keenan do a single thing wrong in the game. His core skills are so good and his positive contributions are so influential. I think he is quality."
Over on our House of Rugby show, myself, James Downey and Jason Hennessy selected six definite Irish starters in our Best XV - Porter, Sheehan, Ryan, Doris, Sexton and Hansen. There were mentions, and arguments, for Hugo Keenan and Josh van der Flier, too.
"It would be crazy if we did not have seven or eight Irish players in there," said Hennessy, "especially when you look at the manner in which we won the Grand Slam."
Voting for Team of the Tournament and Player of the Championship is open until Wednesday evening, with the winners announced on Friday.
WATCH HOUSE OF RUGBY:
- Ireland vs. England: All the talking points, biggest moments and player ratings
- Brian O’Driscoll puts into words what whole nation is feeling about Johnny Sexton
- Peter O’Mahony’s comments on Owen Farrell should take no one by surprise
- James Lowe challenges Ireland's Grand Slam winners to scale even greater heights
- Three Ireland stars nominated for Six Nations Player of the Championship