Sexton being in the lead for player of the decade is no fluke – he deserves it and here’s why
There have been cries of outrage and despair from around the rugby world this week as it was announced that Jonny Sexton is currently leading the vote for player of the decade with 22% of the current polling.
Fans reacted with dismay as the Ireland and Leinster fly-half led ahead of the likes of Ritchie McCaw, Beauden Barrett and Dan Carter.
Are they right to be so incensed? Have they forgotten just how influential Sexton has been for club and country over this decade? We will take a look into why Sexton is in fact, a worthy recipient of the player of the decade award.
First off we will delve into his performances for his club. Sexton has been a long time servant of Leinster in a decorated career with the Dublin side – having won a number of European trophies. He was able to carry this form over into the Top 14 as he enjoyed a successful stint with French side Racing 92. Has king Beaudy done that? I don’t think so.
As a fly-half – Sexton was the architect behind Leinster’s dominance on the European stage as he pulled the strings for one of the greatest sides of the modern era in a ferociously competitive tournament.
In this decade alone he spearheaded Leinster to European triumphs in 2011, 2012 and 2018 and that’s not even looking at his success he’s had with his club on the domestic front.
Now we move onto where Sexton really has cemented himself as player of the decade in his performances for Ireland.
For much of this decade Ireland have been right at the top of the pecking order in Northern Hemisphere rugby and again – Sexton has been the beating heart of these wins.
In 2014, 2015 and 2018 Ireland won the Six Nations in what is, without doubt, the most competitive international competition in the world.
Sexton would in this time mould himself into something of a marmite figure on the international scene – similarly to how Owen Farrell is seen with England. A fierce competitor who doesn’t care about how he’s seen, all that matters is winning. We’ve seen in countless matches how Sexton has been targeted in defence – teams would do almost anything to nullify the mercurial playmaker who could turn matches on his own.
The All Blacks, no doubt, have always been the most talented side on the international stage. Players like Dan Carter and Barrett have been able to thrive in these environments where they’ve been able to rest much of the responsibility and workload onto other brilliant players.
The same can’t always have been said for Sexton who has not had the same number of world-class players to look to whilst leading Ireland through the last ten years.
It’s fair to say that in the last year or so Sexton has perhaps been slightly off from his peak – but fans have been incredibly quick to forget just how brilliant this man was on the international stage Ireland. If he comes out on top in this vote – he more than deserves it.