Felipe Contepomi has no concerns about Johnny Sexton’s form after the Leinster out-half endured a torrid day at the office in Twickenham on Sunday.
The Ireland captain fumbled Ben Youngs’ grubber kick that led directly to England’s opening try and then pulled both kicks at goal badly wide to compound what was already a nightmare outing.
Leinster will need the No 10 to be at his best when the province take on Owen Farrell and company next month when Saracens come to Dublin, and Contepomi is confident his former teammate will bounce back — just as he did after the disappointment of last year’s World Cup.
“We’ve been here talking more about Johnny’s good days than bad days,” he said.
“Sometimes you have a bad day. It is more important how he bounces back. He is such a competitor. He has shown at least from when I saw him after the World Cup, in the time he has been with us, he is in a good place mentally and physically. He’ll bounce back. I wouldn’t be worried about Johnny.”
Sexton admitted to making contact “too high” with the ball, and appeared to get too close to the ball with his standing foot for the first attempt, but again Contepomi insists it’s not part of a larger concern.
“How many times has Johnny kicked to win games? I wouldn’t be worried about that,” he said.
Sexton’s poor form may not be part of a worrying trend, but Ireland’s three losses to England in the last 12 months are.
Add to that Leinster’s Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens — who supply many of England’s players — and there’s a growing sense the English side could trouble Leo Cullen’s men in next month’s European quarter-final.
Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Jamie George, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly and the Vunipola brothers — if fit — will rock up to Dublin 4 in the knowledge that they must be inside the Leinster players’ minds.
A hammering in Dublin last year, a record 57-15 win in Twickenham and now Sunday’s facile victory — will it count for much when Mark McCall’s side run out in Aviva Stadium?
“We will learn from Sunday’s game,” Contepomi said. “You can always learn from your own games and from watching other teams’ games.
“You can learn from those games, but England and Ireland are not Leinster and Saracens. I know what you mean, we have many players —– on both sides — playing for their countries, but it’s still a different game. It is a different scenario and situation.”
It’s put to Contepomi that many of England’s most dominant players come from Sarries, and their physical control over the meetings must be a concern?
“If you go to Leinster players, I can’t see James Ryan not being physical. On Sunday, I thought he was really physical. Ronan Kelleher, Caelan Doris when he came in they were both very physical.
“On the other side, you see Itoje, Kruis and some others are very physical, but I think with physicality — every game is different and it comes also on how you prepare the game, how you start the game, how you’re set up for those games. Then I can’t see why the Irish players can’t be as physical as the English. I think they are.
When pushed that Ireland had failed three times to prove this, Contepomi pointed out that it was not only Saracens players making the difference.
“They’re not all the same players. England started the first three movements with [Manu] Tuilagi,” he argued.
“Sarries, they use [Billy] Vunipola — and I don’t know if he will be there (when we meet). So it is not just the personnel.
“Everyone uses their personnel to their best ability. If we think we might have a different game plan, it is not the same.
“It is very easy to narrow it down to Ireland and England, Leinster and Saracens.