Mike Catt believes Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton is just like his former England team-mate Jonny Wilkinson in being a “completely different mental animal”.
Sexton will look to log out a stellar Guinness Six Nations profession in fashion by main his nation to the Grand Slam with a St Patrick’s weekend victory over England in Dublin.
The 37-year-old, who is ready to retire following the autumn World Cup in France, may grow to be the championship’s outright all-time main factors scorer throughout Saturday’s swansong after drawing degree with Ronan O’Gara’s tally of 557 final weekend.
Ireland assistant coach Catt lifted the 2003 World Cup alongside Wilkinson and feels there are many parallels between the 2 fly-halves named Jonathan.
“They’re both obsessive, they’re just completely different mental animals,” Catt mentioned of Sexton and Wilkinson.
“They’re so in the moment, they’re so in the game. Everything means a hell of a lot.
“They’re deep thinkers of the game and it’s bringing that freedom out of them so they can go and perform that’s the crucial thing.
“But how they make people feel around them is what they’re very, very good at as well.
“When you stand next to a Jonny Wilkinson or a Johnny Sexton, you feel pretty special.
“There are a lot of comparisons in there but ultimately you’ve got to deliver on the hype on the big stage and both Johnny’s have done that. Let’s see what Johnny can do tomorrow.”
England clinched the 2003 Grand Slam at Lansdowne Road earlier than Wilkinson and Catt went on to carry the Webb Ellis Cup in Australia eight months later.
Andy Farrell’s Ireland have comparable ambitions this yr and Catt believes the development of the world’s top-ranked crew has “gripped the nation”.
“It’s going to be a great weekend,” mentioned Catt.
“I think the fans have been amazing, the way the boys have played has definitely gripped the nation in terms of the success we’ve had over the past year.
“But, as a group, we’re not going to get too emotional over the whole thing.”
England crossed the Irish Sea on Thursday having been stung by a record-breaking Twickenham humiliation by the hands of France which emphatically wiped them out of title competition.
Catt is cautious of an “exceptionally dangerous” visiting crew filled with “proper X factor” gamers and singled out the energy of Steve Borthwick’s backs, together with wing Henry Arundell, who will make his full Test debut.
“We’re massively respectful of that side, especially from a backline point of view,” mentioned Catt.
“There’s no way we’re thinking anything other than it’s going to be a tough, tough Test match.
“They’ve got some proper X factor and I think Arundell is one of those players that we haven’t seen a massive amount of but, if he gets the ball, he can cause absolute chaos.
“They are exceptionally dangerous across the board and we’re well aware of that.”