David Nucifora: 'We’d absolutely work with Johnny Sexton'

David Nucifora: 'We’d absolutely work with Johnny Sexton'

IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) Performance Director David Nucifora has left the door open for former Ireland captain Johnny Sexton to join the Irish coaching setup in some capacity if the opportunity presents itself in the future.

Ireland's current attacking coach, Mike Catt, is set to leave the role he has held since 2020, and the IRFU is set to announce Catt's replacement in the coming weeks.

Sexton has not played rugby since retiring from all forms of rugby after the Rugby World Cup and is currently not employed by anyone as of yet.

The prospect of Sexton joining Andy Farrell's coaching side is an idea that people have created, and for IRFU Performance Director Nucifora, he isn't ruling out having Sexton on the Irish coaching team if he chooses to do so. However, this ultimately will come down to what Sexton wants.

"If he chose, he'd like to do that [coaching], we’d absolutely work with him. I think for Johnny at the moment, it’s just taking a bit of time to take a deep breath. It’s been a long career to decompress and work out in his own head what he really wants to do," he said.  

"There’s obviously a lot of rugby intellect in there, and you’d like to access it or use it in some way if you had the ability to do it, but he’s got to decide what it is that floats his boat over the next period of time. But if he ever chose to want to come back into coaching, the Irish system would be mad to say no to him."

Jonathan Sexton of Ireland convert the try during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Ireland and Romania at Stade de Bordeaux (Photo by Hans van der Valk/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

The Australian native, like Catt, will end his tenure with the IRFU this summer. The IRFU Performance Director, when he steps down after the Olympic Games in Paris, is set to be replaced by David Humphreys in the summer of 2024. 

Nucifora, before his departure, will mentor Humphreys in the role in March, and then it will be Humphreys' turn to shape Irish rugby. Nucifora's legacy within the organisation is substantial, and he is backing Humphreys to do the same when he takes over.

"Look, he will take the time to get a feel for what's here and what’s in place. It’s not an easy job, this one. It has its moments, and you’ve got to be prepared to be able to deal with all kinds of different scenarios and situations," he added.

"At the end of the day, what I’ve always tried to do is what’s right for Irish rugby, and I’m sure David will have that same intention. At times, you get questioned about those decisions you’re forced to make, so I’m sure that over time he’s going to face some difficult scenarios.

"He’s a wise guy who’s been around the block, and I’m sure he’s well capable of steering the ship really well."