Kidney pleased with Sexton debut
November 21, 2009
Fiji coach Glen Ella was pleased with his side's commitment © PA Photos
Ireland coach Declan Kidney has hailed the contribution of Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton after he inspired a 41-6 victory over Fiji at the RDS.
Sexton will be in the mix to face South Africa next weekend and is emerging as a genuine contender to Ronan O'Gara in the Ireland No.10 jersey. The news is not so good for Munster back-row Denis Leamy, who picked up an ankle injury in the game and is now unlikely to feature against the Springboks.
"Jonathan showed great maturity out there," said Kidney. "Then again, I'm not surprised. Last year, when things were not going so well for him, he stuck at it, which is a great sign."
Sexton was realistic about his chances next weekend, but was pleased with his contribution after lighting up the RDS with some stunning touchline conversions. "I'm very happy, but there are always things to work on," he said. "Obviously, everyone in the squad wants to start, but they are not decisions I'm here to make."
Skipper Brian O'Driscoll, one of Ireland's try-scorers, reflected the victory was not as easy as the final scoreline suggested. He said, "One thing I have learned is that you have to grind down sides. That took us 60 or 70 minutes. The days of cricket scores in these sorts of matches are behind us."
Fiji coach Glen Ella also praised Sexton's contribution but believes that his side were worth more than their heavy defeat, which followed a loss to Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend.
"We actually played much better than 41-6. Obviously, Ireland are a quality team, they are very clinical," he said. "Naturally, we are disappointed but, in saying that, we improved from the Scotland game. We did, however, have a problem competing for the full 80 minutes."
Assistant coach Mike Brewer agreed Ireland were superior to Scotland. He said, "The difference is how clinical Ireland are. We definitely improved from the Scotland game, but Ireland play with pace and intensity, whereas Scotland are not there yet."
Denis Leamy seems certain to miss out on Ireland's final autumn international against South Africa after he was carried off with an ankle injury and hooker Jerry Flannery should definitely be available despite requiring some attention to a nose injury.
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