He's one of the most famous rugby players on the face of the earth but that doesn't mean that Johnny Sexton is impervious to the abuse that sportspeople face on an almost daily basis nowadays.
Sexton's rivalry (and their subsequent journey to become essentially best pals) was one of the most dramatic subplots in Irish rugby in the last decade. What began with animosity, particularly with Sexton celebrating a try in O'Gara's face in Leinster's 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final victory over Munster at Croke Park, eventually matured into a relationship of respect and culminated in the teacher/student relationship they had with Racing Metro.
While all of this was going on Sexton, as you might expect, was the recipient of abuse from the Munster faithful every time he played in Thomond Park. Water off a duck's back, right? Well, not quite.
Speaking to The Coronas frontman Danny O'Reilly, who is fronting a series for Today FM called 'A Different Side', Sexton elaborated on how difficult it sometimes was to process the things he heard from the stands.
There was a lot of rivalry between me and Ronan [O’Gara] and obviously a lot of the Munster fans would give me a piece of their mind and I was reading too much into it and I was reading a lot of negative things [on social media] and I’d be quite a sensitive fella. I don’t go searching for what people think because it affects me too much. A lot of guys say ‘Oh I don’t read the media because I don’t care what they say’ but I don’t read it because I do care what the say, and I know it influences other people in what they think. It’s better off for myself [not to read the press].
Social media is another thing that the Ireland #10 stays away from - something of a rarity when it comes to professional sportspeople.
I can see the benefits of it, I’ve got people at me to get on social media and get out there a bit more, but it’s something I didn’t get into from the start. You know, I wouldn’t give the whole world my phone number, and [social media] is a way of people being able to contact you and tell you what they think about you. My position on the pitch is really important and my mistakes could lose us a game.
Twitter can lose you a game? That explains why none of us here in the Balls.ie office got that call to the Leinster academy then...