Shane Horgan, Matt Williams, and Rob Kearney were in the Virgin Media studios ahead of Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Italy earlier this year. One of the topics of discussion was Ireland’s out-half options, and in particular the relationship between Leinster's Johnny Sexton and Munster's Joey Carbery.
Kearney spoke of the need for players to have a friendly relationship for the good of the team, and used the infamously poor relationship between Ronan O’Gara and Johnny Sexton as an example of an imperfect situation.
Rob Kearney on O'Gara/Sexton relationship
"I certainly think that for the benefit of the team you want everyone getting on well," said Kearney.
"Your two number tens Johnny and Joey have a really good relationship.
"I remember one time it was a Wednesday afternoon and we were going practising kicking in 2010 I think it was. It was me, Johnny, ROG (Ronan O'Gara) on the bus. They wouldn’t speak to each other it was so awkward. I was sitting there at the back on my phone, [wanting to] get off this bus as soon as possible.
“I didn’t think it was healthy at the time, and particularly when Johnny’s captain now you’ve got to lead by example and be inclusive to the other players around you.”
"I remember one Wednesday afternoon in 2010, we were going to practice kicking. Me, Johnny and ROG on the bus.
"They wouldn't speak to each other! It was so awkward!"
Great chat here on the healthy relationship between Johnny Sexton & Joey Carbery.#IREvITA #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/njh0zVp5bN
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Shane Horgan agreed that the relationship between O’Gara and Sexton was unadvisable, but argued that there needs to be some degree of rivalry for players to achieve their full potential.
“It doesn’t have to be fractious," Horgan said.
"Too friendly a relationship isn’t beneficial to Joey. If you look at when ROG and Sexton were there, Sexto came in he said ROG 'you’re gone you’re useless', he didn’t rate him.
“And it was the same with Ronan and Humphs (David Humphreys) before that. And maybe it’s a ten thing, but I think we’ve all been subjected to it. Tommy Bowe when he took my place I’m sure he was there, ‘that Horgan guy useless, he’s past it, let me in’.
“It’s almost that youth has to come in and take over and say this is mine now my time is here, and Joey isn’t quite there. It doesn’t feel like he’s at the point where he says ‘Sexton get out of here I’m taking over’.”
Matt Williams agreed with Horgan and said, “You’ve got to have a real friction of competitiveness in the teams for positions.”
Ronan O'Gara and Johnny Sexton's rivalry came at a time when fortunes began to change between Munster and Leinster, and defined an entire era of the rivalry.