Gaelic football icon Pat Spillane holds Johnny Sexton in high regard, drawing parallels between Sexton’s elite mentality and the likes of Michael Jordan, Roy Keane, and even Spillane during his tenure with Kerry.
Nonetheless, his admiration waned when he read the statement released by Sexton following this year’s Rugby World Cup. In an op-ed for the Sunday World, Spillane expressed disbelief that a player of Sexton’s caliber would assert victory in the aftermath of a resounding defeat.
He went on to suggest that this claim might be indicative of the broader state of Irish rugby.
He wrote in the Sunday World: “I was taken aback by his retirement statement would be the understatement of the month.
“He said that four years ago the Irish squad had sat down and spoke about what they wanted to achieve.
“Our main motivation and objective was to inspire the nation. I think we have achieved that. We lost, but we won,” said the statement.
“What? We lost, but we won?
“This was the most un-Sexton quote ever. It is pure gobbledygook which might be normal coming from some PR guru, but not from a born winner.
C”hrist, can you imagine Jack O’Connor and the Kerry players telling the Kerry fans “we lost, but we won” after being beaten by Dublin in the All-Ireland final? They would have been ran out of the county if they were foolish enough to make such a statement.
“I suppose his statement reflects the stark difference between how Gaelic football (and hurling) is perceived in Ireland compared to rugby.
“The rugby fraternity appear to be happy with world rankings and wins in autumn Tests.”
#30. Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
A rising Irish hooker known for his powerful scrummaging and dynamic play in open field. Sheehan’s agility and tackling prowess make him a vital asset in set pieces and loose play alike, hinting at a promising future in international rugby
#29. Owen Farrell (England)
England’s steadfast captain and fly-half, Farrell’s tactical brilliance and accurate kicking guide his team’s gameplay. Renowned for his leadership, his defensive grit and ability to control the game’s pace make him a linchpin in England’s rugby strategy.
Wales Online wrote: “The 31-year-old has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons recently but is a player you’d rather play with than against. Farrell is a natural leader of men, and will play a crucial role if England are to drag themselves out of the rut they find themselves in.”
#28. Thibaud Flament (France)
A versatile lock for France, Flament’s towering presence in the lineout and ferocious work rate define his style. With his strong carrying and breakdown skills, he is a force to be reckoned with in both set-piece dominance and open-field encounters.
#27. Shannon Frizell (New Zealand)
Frizzell’s imposing physique and aggressive ball-carrying mark him as a formidable All Black flanker. His offloading ability, coupled with his defensive prowess, cements his position as a player who consistently makes his presence felt on the field.
#26. Steven Kitshoff (South Africa)
An anchor of the Springboks’ scrum, Kitshoff’s experience and technical expertise are unmatched. His exceptional work rate and relentless tackling contribute to his reputation as a reliable front-row stalwart, key to South Africa’s forward dominance.