Cullen backs Sexton to prove worth as Ireland captain

Leo Cullen insists Johnny Sexton will prove his worth as Ireland captain, and has backed his out-half to come back stronger after last Sunday’s Six Nations defeat to England.

Leo Cullen insists Johnny Sexton will prove his worth as Ireland captain, and has backed his out-half to come back stronger after last Sunday’s Six Nations defeat to England.

Former Ireland No. 10 Ronan O’Gara claimed the national team would be better off with “another leader” in charge of the captaincy, but Cullen — who named Sexton Leinster captain — says the 34 year-old is up to the task.

Sexton endured a torrid day in Twickenham, missing two relatively straightforward kicks and delivering a poor all-round display.

“I think Johnny’s been really good, it’s a huge responsibility,” Cullen said.

“We’re all the time here, thinking ‘how do we help’ whoever that person, is, in terms of lightening that load, hence why there’s a wider [leadership] group.

“Johnny’s captain of the club, we think he’s the best person for the job, that’s the only reason.

“Why do we think he’s the best person to do it? He’s got such a bank of rugby knowledge, intellect, and he’s so passionate about this team.

“I’m pretty sure this is transferring over to the Irish team as well, he’s a fierce competitor and wants the best for the team he’s playing in.

“He’s still performing to an incredibly high level. They had a tough day at the office, everyone had a tough day at the office in Twickenham, but it’s a tough place to go for the best teams in the world.

“Johnny is still a huge figure for us here, I’ve not talked to him in any great detail since the weekend, but he’ll take, as he always does, a huge amount from the [England] game.

“It’s sort of a common script, as players of any sport start to get that little bit older, people wonder when the downfall is going to happen, that’s a normal narrative I believe, but Johnny’s incredibly resilient.

“He’s been written off many, many times before and he always comes back stronger.”

LEINSTER (v Glasgow): H Keenan; D Kearney, J O’Brien, J Tomane, J Lowe; H Byrne, L McGrath; P Dooley, S Cronin, M Bent, R Baird, S Fardy (capt), J Murphy, W Connors, M Deegan.

Replacements: J Tracy, M Milne, J Aungier, J Dunne, R Ruddock; J Gibson-Park, C Frawley, F McFadden.

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