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Sexton is just as good as Barrett, says Contepomi

 

By Ruaidhri O'Connor ·

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Key performer: Johnny Sexton

Four tries in Saturday's Bledisloe Cup win over Australia appears to have cemented the impression that this is the Beauden Barrett era, but Felipe Contepomi reckons there is a toss of a coin between the free-scoring All Black out-half and Johnny Sexton.

Fitness permitting, the duo will face off in November when the world's top two teams meet in Dublin, and the former Puma is excited about their battle.

"Johnny and Beauden Barrett - you can pick who you want, but I'd like to see Johnny in a black jersey and see what he can do, and then we could compare," Leinster's new backs coach said.

"Johnny has done really well, Ireland is probably the second best in the world nowadays and a lot of that has to do with how Johnny conducts that team.

"It's hard to compare two players when you are behind a team like the All Blacks. Beauden Barrett is magnificent, but he has some attributes that Johnny doesn't and Johnny has some attributes that Beauden doesn't.

"It's take your pick of whatever style of rugby you want to play, but they are at the moment the best out-halves in the world."

But right now, Leinster's focus is on who will step into Sexton's No.10 slot on Friday night.

Although he went on tour to Australia in June, it appears likely that Ross Byrne will be released for the start of the provincial campaign.

With Joey Carbery now at Munster and Ciaran Frawley out through injury, the province are feeling a little stretched in the pivotal position and have looked at using centres Noel Reid and Tom Daly in the slot if needed.

But the early return of Byrne, who was an unused replacement in the final Test win over Australia, is a fillip.

"We have the best out-half in the world. He won't be available for the first few games but then we have other good players that can fill those boots," Contepomi said. "You can see Ross is a good player. He's confident, he talks, he knows the competition. He's in a great moment so hopefully he can keep giving Leinster what he has been giving so far."

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Key performer: Johnny Sexton