Johnny Sexton has a lot on his plate. Not only is he the key cog in making Ireland's attack tick, but he also now has the added responsibility of being the team's captain.
While there is no doubt that Sexton was a leader on the pitch before being announced as Rory Best's replacement, being the captain brings with it a number of extra duties. He is now the one that makes the final call at important times in-game, especially when it comes to kicking for the posts or going to the corner.
Ronan O'Gara knows all about this pressure. He was often in a position where a big kick was needed to secure a result, although he was rarely the one making the final decision.
Whereas Sexton will be the one who both makes the decision and takes the kick, O'Gara had a captain there with him to make the call.
Paul O'Connell was especially forthright in this manner, with the former Munster man revealing on Virgin Media yesterday that on occasion he was given no say at all on the decision to go for the posts:
This is fascinating!@RonanOGara10 on the psychology and decision-making of the kicking process in rugby.
Battling with Paul O'Connell, Johnny Sexton making decisions himself, dealing with nerves and much more!#IREvWAL #GuinnessSixNations #VMTVRugby pic.twitter.com/aFHBEwuKc7
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) February 8, 2020
Johnny has so much on his plate as a captain, he has everything. The 'ten' is always the boss on the pitch, but because of his competitive nature he likes the title of captain. Nobody can begrudge him that.
Where it becomes sticky, he refers to his leaders on the pitch about how they're going in the scrum or the line-out and should we kick to the corner. But who is going to tell Johnny to kick it over the bar.
I can tell you in my day, I wasn't asked. When I was with Paulie at times... it got to a stage where he had such presence and is a massive figure in the team.
He was a bigger figure in the team than I was, which is necessary because when you're the kicker and you're human, you've missed your last one and it's five metres from the touchline, you're like 'no Paulie, we've got a great line-out drive'.
He actually was so cute, and he got on so well with referees, that he would just take me out of it. He goes three points, and I'd say 'you're having a shot, are you?'
Sexton seems to be balancing his responsibilities well at the moment, with Ireland two wins from two in this year's Six Nations.
A player of his experience is perfectly capable of juggling both roles, but it will be interesting to see if this continues throughout the championship.