Rugby World Cup 2011
Sexton: No issues with World Cup ball
September 13, 2011
Jonathan Sexton had an off day with the boot in his side's win over the United States on Sunday © Getty Images
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton has rubbished the suggestion that the ball being used in the Rugby World Cup is to blame for the surprisingly poor goal-kicking which has been a feature of the tournament so far.
Renowned marksmen Jonny Wilkinson and Chris Paterson both struggled badly to find their range in their respective country's opening games, while Sexton himself only managed to land two of his six strikes on goal during Sunday's laboured victory over the United States.
Some have claimed that the new ball could be the issue, in spite of the fact that most sides have been working with it since last November. However, Sexton has his own theory.
"Several of the top tier nations have pool matches in some of the smaller stadiums and if the weather doesn't play ball then kicking conditions are a lot more difficult," he wrote in his blog for O2. "It's not an excuse, just an observation. Much has been made of the ball by some commentators but there's no problem there."
Indeed, Sexton felt that the windy weather in New Plymouth was also partly responsible for the disappointing nature of his side's win over the Eagles.
"The conditions were very stormy," the Leinster fly-half explained. "There was excessive wind and driving rain for the most part - but as a team we were hoping for a better display despite the elements.
"On a personal level it wasn't one of my best games. The irony is that I had been kicking well in the warm-up but the wind changed direction on a couple of occasions during the match.
"I was happy with the manner in which I struck the first couple but less so with a couple of efforts after half-time.
"The stadium itself is quite open - it's not encased by stands - and therefore the wind tends to swirl as it sweeps through openings."
Despite the underwhelming start to the campaign, with Ireland failing to register a try-scoring bonus point, Sexton insists that Declan Kidney's men are going in to their pivotal clash with Tri-Nations champions Australia with real belief that they can pull off an upset win.
"We got the victory over the USA, not in the manner in which we would have liked but there's nothing productive to be gained from dwelling on the match," he wrote.
"We can render the bonus point issue irrelevant over the next three matches. That's the focus for the team starting with the game against Australia. The mood in the camp is good, resolute as we prepare for Saturday's clash with the Wallabies."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage