O’Driscoll de­fends Sexton af­ter Jones barb

Eng­land coach be­lieves Sexton receives more pro­tec­tion from of­fi­cials than Far­rell

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - GERRY THORN­LEY

Owen Far­rell en­gen­ders “less sym­pa­thy” than Johnny Sexton be­cause he gives out as much phys­i­cal­ity as he receives, be­lieves Brian O’Driscoll.

Ex-Ire­land cap­tain O’Driscoll has de­fended Sexton against Eng­land head coach Ed­die Jones’ lat­est crit­i­cism of the Le­in­ster and Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons out­half.

Jones this week sug­gested Sexton receives more pro­tec­tion over late tack­les from ref­er­ees than Sara­cens play­maker Far­rell.

O’Driscoll be­lieves Jones raised the is­sue mainly as a tac­tic to di­vert at­ten­tion away from full scru­tiny on Eng­land’s clash with New Zealand at Twick­en­ham to­day — but also then re­vealed he thinks Far­rell is ev­ery bit as phys­i­cal as any­one else in the Test arena.

“It’s throw the banger over in that di­rec­tion to take at­ten­tion away from what is the main­stay point,” said O’Driscoll. “Here we are talk­ing about it, rather than the ac­tual point, which is who’s go­ing to win the match.

“It’s a side plot to the big­ger theme of what’s more im­por­tant, the game on Satur­day.

“Do I think Johnny Sexton’s more pro­tected than Owen Far­rell? Far­rell throws it around a lot more than Johnny Sexton, so maybe from that per­spec­tive there’s less sym­pa­thy when he cops a late one, be­cause he’s prone to the odd loose one him­self, as the end of the South Africa game showed.”

Late hit

Far­rell is nurs­ing a sore hip head­ing into Eng­land’s clash with the All Blacks, af­ter cop­ping a late hit from An­dre Ester­huizen in last week­end’s 12-11 win over South Africa.

The Eng­land num­ber 10 then es­caped any sanction with a much-de­bated phys­i­cal hit on Ester­huizen him­self in the clos­ing stages of that slen­der vic­tory over the Spring­boks.

Jones said on Thurs­day he feels Ire­land’s Sexton receives more pro­tec­tion from of­fi­cials than his own man Far­rell.

“If he was Johnny Sexton, then we’d be able to com­plain about him, but be­cause he’s Owen Far­rell he’s al­lowed to be hit late,” said Jones. “He gets up and plays on. He’ll be like that this week.”

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