Ian Keatley expects Johnny Sexton to reclaim Ireland’s No 10 jersey – but will have no complaints about being replaced by “one of the best out-halves in the world”.
Keatley posted a 100 per cent goal-kicking record on his Six Nations debut as Ireland eased past Italy 26-3 with a staccato performance in Rome. It took Joe Schmidt’s men a long time to wear down an impressive Italian defence, but tries by Conor Murray and Tommy O’Donnell sealed the victory.
Keatley, though, conceded Sexton should start against France in Dublin on Saturday, with the Racing Métro playmaker finally free to return after an enforced 12-week concussion lay-off.
“Johnny’s done so well over the last three or four years and he deserves the number one position,” said Keatley.
“He’s one of the best out-halves in the world so I presume he’s going to be straight in there for the French match, even though he hasn’t played in a while. He’s still been keeping fit and you need Johnny Sexton in your team.
“I know that Johnny is number one, but you can’t just accept that. If you’re looking to play second-fiddle to someone the whole time you’re not going to improve personally.
“So that’s what I want to do, I want to keep improving and just keep challenging Johnny and hopefully play in more big games like this.”
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