Sexton, a keen Manchester United fan, was keen to press the five-time Premier League champion on his all-time toughest opponent. John O’Shea mentioned two names familiar to many: “Individually, Cristiano Ronaldo was the best player I played with, but in terms of an overall team effect, you’d have to have Roy Keane.”
As a massive season for Irish rugby continues to take shape, Sexton outlined how Joe Schmidt’s ruthless streak has shone through: “The Munster players were a bit worried that Joe would favour the Leinster players, but they quickly figured out that he is as ruthless as they come, and come the Monday morning video review, there was no holding back.”
Commenting on the influence of Fergie, his long-time manager at Manchester United, O’Shea said, “The type of aura and commanding presence which Sir Alex Ferguson had was incredible and he was able to build up that aura because of the success he had. He was able to increase that confidence year after year in the players and the squads that he built. You can obviously see a similar effect in the Irish rugby set-up at the minute.”
Sexton and O’Shea shared their stories of the role Irish fans play in driving on the national teams, with Sexton recalling his experience of football-mania as a supporter: “With soccer, it’s a different type of mad, the country just comes to a standstill”.