Ireland v South Africa, Croke Park, November 28
O'Driscoll sure O'Gara will be back
November 25, 2009
Ireland's Ronan O'Gara has been backed by long-time team-mate Brian O'Driscoll © Getty Images
Sexton will start in the No.10 jersey against South Africa at Croke Park on Saturday, representing the first time that O'Gara has been dropped since 2003. The 24-year-old won his first cap against Fiji last weekend and has been handed another chance to impress.
O'Driscoll is confident that O'Gara will again show the fortitude that has served him well in the colours of Munster and Ireland and maintain his standing within the squad.
"The management are looking to give Jonathan an opportunity after he proved himself against an under-strength Fiji side," O'Driscoll said. "It's another chance for him against the world champions. They're two different prospects.
"Ronan will be disappointed to be sitting on the bench but he's a strong character and has shown time and again that he turns up for the big moments. We know he's capable of that and this is just a chance for Jonny to prove his worth."
Sexton could be the long-awaited answer as to who will succeed O'Gara, who will be 34 by the time the 2011 Rugby World Cup rolls around. Ireland coach Declan Kidney believes that Sexton needs to be tested at the highest level so that his progress can be properly evaluated.
"I know we have a world-class outside-half in Ronan but we have to find out things about ourselves," he said. "Jonathan had a good game last week but with respect, Fiji were short of a few so it was difficult to read. I need to find out more.
"I worked with Jonathan last year and gave him the nod for the 'A' team and that answered a lot of questions. I know we still have Ronan available. He's disappointed he's not playing buy I can't pick everybody all of the time.
"Ronan is disappointed but is the perfect pro. He's taken it on the chin, has continued training and has contributed to the team exactly as he would normally. "It was a difficult call but that doesn't really matter. My job is to pick an Ireland team and that's what I've done."