The Leinster and Irish Out-half Johnny Sexton was talking to the media this week ahead of their opening Champions Cup game against Bath and he recalls the time the former Manchester United and Irish captain Roy Keane spoke to the Irish rugby squad just before they took on England at Twickenham.
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“We had Roy Keane with us ourselves probably 18 months ago before we played England at Twickenham,”
“We lost, so he didn’t have that big of an impact on us, but it was a brilliant couple of hours with him.
“He was incredibly generous with his time and his stories, but I was actually delegated to ask him questions on the night. I asked him one question and he spoke for two hours, so I was doing my best job, writing questions all week.
“I was researching and searching different avenues that I could probe him on and I asked one question and lads slagged the arse off me! But yeah, it was very special from that point of view.”
“I think [my first question] was that good that he was worried about what else was coming,” Sexton remarked. “So, he was just very, very smart in how he spoke for two hours because he knew there were brilliant questions coming!”
“It was probably very surreal sitting there listening to him,”
“He was very, very open with us. We asked him about different things about leadership, and about team culture and environments. We probably didn’t get the answers we thought we were going to get.
“What it came back to was… What he boiled down to was: effort, hard work, turning up day in, day out. He gave us very simple answers, but brilliant answers all the same.
“You sometimes get speakers in and they’ve got buzzwords and they talk about lots, but with him, it was just getting to the point. He wasn’t mad about all the talk about leadership groups and all this stuff, he was more saying that when he was at [Manchester] United, he just had good people around him and that drove standards. And they probably didn’t even know they were doing it.
“But it was a brilliant couple of hours. We could have sat there all night listening to him. And it’s the same when you watch him on TV now: you can’t turn him off when he’s on the screen.”