OPINION: Centurion | Sexton illustrates once again why he is Ireland’s best ten

Johnny Sexton became Ireland’s seventh centurion over the weekend.

Following his 100th cap in Irelands demolition of Japan this past weekend, once more Jonathon Sexton reminded the rugby world of his ability, but also illustrated why he is still the best fly-half in our nation.

6 November 2021; Andrew Conway, 14, of Ireland celebrates with team-mates Jonathan Sexton and Bundee Aki after scoring their side’s third try during the Autumn Nations Series match between Ireland and Japan at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

With his omission from Warren Gatland’s Lions squad that saw defeat against South Africa during the summer, Sexton would once more have something to prove this season. 

The Leinster man has always had that edge to his game and the chip on the shoulder mentality. However, this year he has that fire lit inside, not only by his absence on the tour against the Springboks, but also due to the media fuelling this idea that he may be done and that it is time to bring through the younger out-half’s in the squad.

Many could argue the reason for Sexton getting minutes, let alone starting for Andy Farrell’s side is purely down to a lack of options behind him, with no one really pushing on and putting their hands up to replace him.

3 July 2021; Joey Carbery of Ireland during the International Rugby Friendly match between Ireland and Japan at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Joey Carbery has had an inconsistent season once again, perhaps due to his injuries. And while that is highly likely, his performances just haven’t caught the eye often enough. Once seen as the natural successor to the Leinster man, the New Zealand native hasn’t had the impact he may have wished to impose at club level, raising questions around his ability to take over the fly-half spot for Ireland.

Jack Carty is another player who many would argue does deserve a place in the squad, following his magnificent form for Connacht. It feels as though his performances in an Ireland jersey weren’t enough to convince Farrell of a spot. And he may have had his last chance in the national jersey.

16 October 2021; Jack Carty of Connacht watches his conversion attempt go wide during the United Rugby Championship match between Munster and Connacht at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Sexton, the former World Rugby Player of the Year who has notched upwards of 900 points over his international career isn’t done reminding Farrell and fans of his presence and experience just yet. It may have been a poor Japan side in which Sexton yet again flourished, however you can only play who is in front of you. The cool, composed nature of Sexton’s performance again demonstrated his experience and ability to lead.

The 36-year-old was heavily influential throughout Ireland’s last Six Nations campaign. New Zealand will most certainly offer a tougher test than Japan, and many believe that father time is undefeated, expecting that Sexton’s mileage will ultimately show soon, with numerous injuries of late.

Of course, Sexton may have a few bumps and bruises to show for his time on the field. Yet, the ageing ten is still our best option at that position, and it’s not close.

Appreciation is required for a man who has done so much on the international stage and for those asking to move on, look forward and start fresh, why? Sexton is one of the greatest players to put on the green jersey, arguably the greatest alongside Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll, deserves his respect.

Sexton should not be rushed out of the green jersey, but more adored when he wears one.

The king still wears the crown for the foreseeable future.

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