Joe Schmidt praises Sexton's seamless return to form

Ireland out half made a winning return

Ireland, Jonathan Sexton,

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton celebrates winning ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has praised Johnny Sexton for his ability to slot back in seemingly after an enforced absence.

Injury meant the Ireland out half was unavailable for the two opening rounds of the Six Nations, with Paddy Jackson deputising at No 10 for the Scotland and Italy matches.

However, Sexton had recovered fully and trained by midweek, so much so that French rugby paper Midi Olympique were impressed by what they saw on the training field.

He was named in the starting team to face France and performed strongly in his 68 minutes on the Aviva Stadium pitch, scoring 11 of Ireland's 19 points, including a 49th minute drop goal.

It was a productive return for the Leinster player and Schmidt highlighted his showing.

"I think it's based on experience. It's certainly not the first time that Johnny's done it," said Schmidt as he reflected on the game.

"He tends to come in, prepares himself incredibly well, he's got such a competitive edge that he wants to be at his best all the time.

"He felt good, he felt fresh for some of the other players because you accumulate a few knocks and a bit of fatigue week to week. Johnny came in feeling pretty good," he said. 

Up next for Ireland is a trip to Cardiff to face Wales in just under two weeks' time on March 10th, before a final encounter against England on the last weekend of the Six Nations.