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Jonny Wilkinson Has 'Huge Empathy' For Johnny Sexton Situation

Jonny Wilkinson Has 'Huge Empathy' For Johnny Sexton Situation
By Balls Team Updated
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Jonny Wilkinson believes that Johnny Sexton may be trying to shoulder too much responsibility in the Ireland team.

Like most of the Irish team, Sexton was well below par in Sunday's defeat to England at Twickenham. The out-half failed the impact the game, with his kicking - and in particular two shots at goal - being especially poor.

"I've got such huge empathy for Johnny Sexton's situation," Wilkinson said following ITV's coverage of the game.

"I don't know what he's going through or feeling. As a number ten, when you're a decision-maker, my feeling is that it's really difficult when you establish yourself. He's become established in global terms as being a star and a commanding presence.

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"When new players come into the team that weren't his generation - I think that's a lot of the Irish backs... They're coming in and there's already an established guy in that leadership position, it's very difficult because there's a difficult relationship there.

"You almost have to respect them but haven't had that respect that's been built by growing up with that. The problem there is that as a leader and a ten, you start to do everything you can and the players around you think, 'OK, we'll stay off and just let him do his thing'.

"The ten is thinking, 'I've got everything on my shoulders' and the players around him are thinking, 'He doesn't want us involved'. It happened to me a little bit.

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"The bridge is that as a leader you let go and say, 'You know what, I don't need to be this star because my presence is enough'. The young players say, 'You know what, we don't need to hold back, we need to show what we're capable of'. Then you get this togetherness.

"It looks to me like he's carrying a lot. Then you add the captaincy and now you're saying that he's not just in charge of his backline, he's now in charge of the entire team, and not just the direction of the team but decisions everywhere.

"That can't be easy. What he might be wishing is that everyone around him plays to their best and he just sits back and directs. It never looks like he gets that chance to direct, he's in the middle of everything."

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