Assistant coach Matt Taylor says Scotland intend to “smash” Ireland icon Johnny Sexton in the sides’ Rugby World Cup opener on Sunday.
World Rugby Player of the Year Sexton was taken off in the first half of Ireland’s clash with Scotland in the Six Nations in January. The 34-year-old did not return following a head injury assessment.
Ireland ran out winners on that occasion, but Taylor believes Scotland’s aggressive tactics against the fly-half were effective and suggested Sexton should expect more of the same.
However, Taylor believes top-ranked Ireland will also look to get physical with Finn Russell, Scotland’s star man.
“We did a good a job on [Sexton in February] and I think a lot of teams took a leaf out of our book in terms of getting up and trying to smash him,” the coach told reporters.
“He’s a brave player, he plays it right to the line. But if he plays right to the line, you tend to smash people and that is what we intend to do.
A speechless Johnny Sexton gets a helping hand from Rory Best as he receives the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year 2018 Award in Association with Mastercard #WorldRugbyAwards pic.twitter.com/yveN4gROHh
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) November 25, 2018
“They’ve kept him a bit wrapped in cotton wool over the last period because he has taken a lot of hits and knocks.
“We will certainly be trying to do that to him and they will be trying to do that to Finn as well.
“I love Finn as a player – although Sexton is a very good player. They’re quite different types of players. Finn plays things as he sees them, I’d say, while Johnny is a bit more regimented in the way [Ireland coach] Joe Schmidt likes to play.
“We’re looking to put a lot of pressure on him like we did last time we played. That’s going to be an objective again for us.”
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