Contepomi emphasises Johnny Sexton’s captaincy credentials
‘That personality made him the best player in the world, so you can take it or leave it’
Referee Frank Murphy speaks to Johnny Sexton and Cian Healy during Leinster’s defeat to Munster. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Leinster backs’ coach Felipe Contepomi conceded that indiscipline in the form of two yellow cards for Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong and James Lowe’s red card (the New Zealander faces a disciplinary hearing on Thursday) were pivotal factors in Leinster’s defeat at Thomond Park last Saturday.
He admitted: “The indiscipline was bad in terms of the yellow cards and the red card. It cost us; that’s true. We need to learn from that. We don’t have to go through the emotions of the moment. We just have to focus on playing rugby because we are a very good team when we play rugby.”
The Leinster backs’ coach was asked about the leadership issue on the pitch and specifically whether team captain Jonathan Sexton’s occasionally fractious exchanges with referees make him an ideal candidate for the role.
Contepomi explained: “It’s his (Sexton’s) first year as captain here in Leinster. He knows he’s a leader inside the team, he’s a key player; maybe he’s learning also his way of being a captain and how to deal with different situations, but I wouldn’t (put) it (all) on Johnny.
“We were indisciplined, the most frustrating part for me is that indiscipline, technically, because we had the moments to win the game, and we couldn’t deal with them, well, we dealt wrongly (with them). Then, definitely Johnny has to take the learning points, the whole team has to take learning points on how to deal with it when you’re taken into that moment of heat and you just have to keep your head calm.”
Contepomi is adamant that he doesn’t want to dilute the hyper competitiveness that makes Sexton such an outstanding player. He argued: “That personality made him the best player in the world as well, so you can take it or leave it, you know, and I’d rather take it.
“It’s something that he has to learn, for me, and try to control and that will make him even better, and maybe the best player next year and the following year.
“But it’s hard because we’re judging him on results, okay? And if we would have got the right technical detail and won that game, we would have said, ‘Oh how good was Johnny, he stood up’ or, ‘What a great leader’. I don’t like judging on results, I’d rather take the learning. Definitely he has things to improve on, he’s human, but it’s not about him, it’s all about the team.
“The whole team had moments where we have to improve. He wasn’t sent off. It’s not that I want to put the blame on Cian or Tadhg, we all made errors and that ill discipline harmed the whole team. But in terms of Johnny’s personality, well, that personality makes him the best player in the world.”