Jersey boy Jerry aims to make it a Sexton double
JON NEWCOMBE talks to the younger Sexton brother aiming to crown his own season
JERRY SEXTON will not get any brotherly favours as he looks to add his own piece of silverware to the family collection. Sexton’s Jersey Reds side are two wins away from lifting the British & Irish Cup as well as striving for an historic top-four Championship finish.
Standing in their way at the semifinal stage at Stade Santander next Saturday are Leinster A, Sexton’s old club and where brother Johnny, one of Ireland’s Grand Slam heroes, continues to ply his trade.
Inside information on the opposition is likely to be thin on the ground, however, despite a cheeky request from second-row Jerry, at 24 the younger of the two by eight years.
Sexton told The Rugby Paper: “I asked him to send over some game footage but he wasn’t allowed to so we’ll have to try and get it some other way, but I don’t fancy our chances!”
“Jonathan, below, was planning on coming over for the semi-final but it’s the same date as the Champions Cup. Hopefully he can go on and win that as well as the Grand Slam, and Jersey can finish top four and win the B&I. That would make dad and mum really proud.”
Sexton, an abrasive lineout forward, was a regular for London Irish in the Championship when Jersey fell to a one-point defeat to Munster A in last season’s hugely entertaining final, and he says the Reds are hell-bent on going one better.
“We felt this year that the B&I Cup would be our best chance to win something because Bristol have got an unbelievable squad and there are no play-offs to aim for. Everyone wants to play knock-out rugby and the boys who are still here from last year talk about how good a game the final was.”
Only two-time winners Leinster A have reached back-to-back finals in the nine-year history of the unloved cross-border competition and Sexton knows from first-hand the enormity of the task awaiting them.
“Just look at Leinster’s squad – it doesn’t matter who’s playing for their senior or A team, they change boys up every couple of weeks and their youth system is one of the best in the world. Everyone has high standards all the way through. “I played U18s, U19s, and U20s with them. They are a great club and it was a real honour to represent them. I’ve a few friends there, like the two Byrne brothers, the prop and hooker, and they are good guys and good players, so I look forward to playing against them.” Having seen his career stagnate in Ireland, Jerry left to better himself elsewhere, spending time at Exeter’s academy and in France before winding up at Irish and now Jersey under Harvey Biljon. The goal is still to play at the top level but for the time being he is more than happy to be one of the main voices in the juggernaut Jersey pack. “I played 20-25 games for London Irish last year. But when they got back into the Premiership Nick Kennedy felt it best for my development to stay in the Championship and play every week. I respected that decision and looked elsewhere.
“Jersey is a good place to be and I have signed on for next season. The coaches have put great faith in me and given me a lot of responsibility with running the lineout. Hopefully I’ll continue to develop and learn.
“If a Premiership or PRO14 team comes along Harvey would never stop a player going because that’s everyone’s dream, and it’s what he wants for us as well. But at the moment it is about working hard for Jersey over the next 18 months.”
“Jersey coaches have put great faith in me and given me a lot of responsibility ”
Pack leader: Jerry Sexton