Johnny Sexton has signed a new contract with the IRFU that will keep him in Ireland and at Leinster for another three seasons. That’s good news for both teams and there may be more with Sexton speaking yesterday of emulating Tom Brady in the NFL, still setting records and playing every week at the age of 41.
That’s the positive mindset instilled primarily by Stuart Lancaster at Leinster who is a big fan of Brady.
It’s also entirely possible given the importance of player welfare which staying within the Irish system gives to a player like Sexton.
He has of course experienced both when he played for two years in Paris, becoming the only Irish international in the Schmidt era to still be picked to play for his country despite playing outside the provincial structure.
Sexton, who turned 33 in July, made his Ireland debut against Fiji at the RDS in November 2009 and has subsequently amassed 78 caps for his country, scoring 738 points up to the end of the recent Guinness Series. He was recently named as only the second ever Irish player, after Keith Wood, to be awarded the World Rugby Player of the Year accolade.
Sexton featured in all six of the Lions’ most recent Test matches, helping them to achieve a series victory in Australia in the summer of 2013 and a drawn series in New Zealand last year. making a third tour, to South Africa, is being put out as one of the main reasons to carry on.
The Dubliner made his Leinster debut back in 2006 against Border Reivers and has gone on to make more than 150 appearances for the province, scoring over 1300 points. At Leinster he has won four European Cups (2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018) a European Challenge Cup (2013), and three Celtic League/PRO12/PRO14 titles (2008, 2013 and 2018).
“Johnny’s hunger and drive mark him out as a truly world class competitor,” said IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora.
“He sets a performance benchmark for those around him and is investing in the development of young out-halves in the Ireland squad while also seeking improvement in his own performance.”
“He is a model professional and has been at the centre of a lot of the success enjoyed by Irish Rugby over the past few years.”
“I am delighted to sign a new IRFU contract to continue to play for Leinster and Ireland,” added Sexton.
“It is where I have always wanted to play so I am delighted to extend. We get looked after extremely well here and it is an exciting time for Irish Rugby. I am looking forward to hopefully being a part of that over the next few years.”
We share that view, as will Bank of Ireland, Vodafone, Aer Lingus and Laya Healthcare for whom Sexton has regularly appeared as a top class ambassador.