Sexton lines up Wallabies, Jantjies reveals Rassie advice after scandal, ABs want revenge on WC

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton insists he would rather beat Australia than be crowned World Player of the Year after confirming his suitability to face the Wallabies on Sunday (7am AEDT).

Sexton missed last weekend’s disappointing 35-17 win over Fiji with a broken leg.

The influential 37-year-old guided his country to a Six Nations triple crown, a historic victory in New Zealand, the top of the world rankings and a victory over South Africa, world champions this year.

He had already been named World Rugby’s Player of the Year in 2018 but, ahead of Saturday’s autumn final in Dublin, he said he was more interested in production on the pitch than individual accolades.

“It’s always nice to be recognized like that, I’m not going to lie,” Sexton said of his nomination.

“It’s not something you’re looking for, but to be recognized in this field is very special.

“I would rather win and play well on Saturday than win this, because at the end of the day it’s an opinion.

“Whereas what you produce on Saturday is what you see and that’s the only thing you can control. All my concentration is on that and being recognized is enough for me.

Sexton was shortlisted for the award alongside Irish and Leinster teammate Josh van der Flier, South African center Lukhanyo Am and France captain Antoine Dupont.

The Leinster star was injured in Ireland’s 19-16 win over the Springboks earlier this month and revealed he initially feared he would be forced to sit out this weekend.

“Last week I struggled a bit with swelling and fluids and stuff like that,” he said.

“It was just about managing that and making sure I get the right amount of training this week to be able to perform, but also not to overdo it which bloats again. It’s good to go, it feels good and I’m ready.

Without a host of important injured players, including their skipper, Andy Farrell’s men stuttered in an unconvincing victory over Fiji.

Sexton dismissed the idea that the much-changed starting XV was a reserve formation and believes Ireland have not managed their current status as the best team in the world well enough.

“I don’t think it’s the second channel,” he said. “I think it was the Irish team.

“And the majority of the first team were playing, which is why it was disappointing.

“There are areas of our game since the South Africa game – I’m not putting everything on the Fiji game – where teams are going to chase us in a different way because we are the No. 1 in the world, where we have good results to our credit.

Foley ready for Sexton test

Bernard Foley is likely to start in the No.10 shirt for Australia when the squad is announced early Friday morning and he is delighted to tackle Sexton.

“This one is special, testing you against the best in the world,” Foley said. “It’s really trying to make the most of it because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Foley will return to Japan after this game with the final test against Wales outside the international window. This will also be Will Skelton’s last game on tour.

“What a great challenge. It’s something I really embrace,” Foley added during his clash with Sexton.

“It shows that age is just a number. The thing about Johnny is that he’s ultra-competitive and he has to do everything to stay on top of the game. He takes care of his body and he has world-class game management and skills.

“We don’t know which players are going to be in the mix. [for the World Cup next year]. I have to try to get the most out of every game.

Jantjies responds after scandal

Springboks playmaker and disgraced World Cup winner Elton Jantjies has opened up on his dramatic fall from grace, revealing he spent two weeks at a facility in Cape Town on the recommendation of the manager of the rugby, Rassie Erasmus.

Jantjies was removed from the job in September after it was revealed he was having an affair with team dietitian Zeenat Simjee.

The 32-year-old, who made his debut against Australia in 2012, has not been seen for the Springboks since and was ruled out of their late-season Spring Tour.

But rather than the incident leading to the end of his career, the playmaker claims the decision to miss the tour was taken in consultation with Erasmus to prioritize his family and health over defending the Cup of the world next year.

“I don’t think I was disappointed,” Jantjies told Rugby Pass. Unload podcast.

“I think the break gave me time, so it looks like I’m out of the Springboks because of something. But it’s not like that.

“I haven’t seen my family all year so me and Coach Ras had a chat and I was fine with him and I think the time off to spend time with my family has been difficult, but I had to do it instead of going on tour because next year is going to be a hectic year.

Iva and Elton Jantjies (Source: Instagram)

Jantjies said he would do anything for Erasmus and it was based on the 2019 World Cup-winning coach’s recommendation that he checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic in Cape Town.

“I was in a facility in Cape Town for just two weeks,” he said.

“I had a chat with Ras and Ras told me he had a place where I could just mentally shut down and then I could take a break with my family.

“My main goal was to just disconnect from a psychological standpoint, especially with all the media to come.”

Jantjies, who was at the forefront of the Lions’ success in Super Rugby where they played back-to-back Super Rugby finals in 2017 and 2018, revealed he suffered from insomnia after struggling to sleep.

“Well, I slept well,” he joked.

“My wife and I have talked about it a lot. She says: ‘You don’t switch off, you have trouble sleeping because you’re always with rugby, you watch games all the time, you train all the time, so when do you actually go? switch off ? You take sleeping pills every night during games.

“It was a long period of trying to sleep and having trouble sleeping and they treated me for insomnia.

“For two weeks I haven’t taken any sleeping pills and I still don’t have any, which is pretty good.

“But that was not the main reason. The main reason was to disconnect from a public point of view because I was followed by people. It was quite scary for my wife.

Jantjies says he speaks with Erasmus weekly and plans to return to club football before he hopes to return to the Springboks for next year’s Rugby League.

Meanwhile, the mercurial playmaker said he thought Erasmus was tweeting ‘for South Africa’.

The famed coach exploded into headlines again for his use of social media, where the former Springboks star cut controversial moments from matches that highlighted perceived mistakes by officials.

“At the Springboks we are old school, but we are also new school,” Jantjies said.

“We accepted the fact that you get social media and you have to engage with people from different platforms. These are all factual, so I don’t disagree with that.

“I don’t want to get into these things because it’s a hot topic right now, but I believe he’s doing it for South Africa and doesn’t have his own personal agenda, which is the thing. most important.”

ABs seek revenge

The All Blacks are buoyed by their 2019 World Cup defeat to England when the two teams meet at Twickenham at the weekend.

Codie Taylor, who started that game for the Kiwis, said the loss in Yokohama hurt and was on their minds in the teams’ first meeting since.

“I think we were just mentally overpowered,” Taylor said. “They came to us and [we] probably got punched several times in the face and we didn’t get out of it.

“But, damn it, we’re going to have the same thing this week. And the boys are ready for this challenge and what it will bring.

Meanwhile, Aaron Smith said England v New Zealand was a “bloodshed” game ahead of what is only their third meeting in eight years.

“I woke up Sunday morning thinking, this is the week, this is where you want to be,” Smith said.

“There’s no better test than playing against England at Twickenham.”

He too has bad memories of 2019.

“Probably more of a disappointment that day for us not showing up,” he said.

“Everyone talks about how England dominated us, but when you don’t throw a punch and find a way to get back into the game, it’s pretty gutted.

“I wouldn’t say the semi-final was all about the quality of their play, they just had a really good plan and shocked us early and we couldn’t get away with it.

“For some of us in this group there is scar tissue, but this year has been pretty tough as All Blacks with some of the turmoil and off the pitch stuff and the media and all. C It’s probably worse than that semi-final loss.

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