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Joe Schmidt and Johnny Sexton in their Leinster days.

Joe Schmidt and Johnny Sexton in their Leinster days.

Recently, I met two of my heroes: Johnny Sexton and Joe Schmidt.

Sexton is the Ireland outhalf who now plays his club rugby at Racing Metro 92 in Paris, and Joe is the new Ireland coach.

I met Joe as I was cycling along Lansdowne Road and he was running along the road, I guess from the Aviva Stadium to the IRFU offices up the road.

“Nice turn of speed there, Joe!” I shouted at him as I cycled past.

“Hah, not much speed left now!” he laughed.

I thought of other times I’d seen him – on a Leinster flight to Italy, in post-match interviews. He’s a gent, but also a brilliant coach.

I met Johnny last Christmas Eve. I was interviewing him for Cara, the Aer Lingus inflight magazine.

It was a couple of weeks after the New Zealand match, and a couple of days after the ROG documentary on RTÉ.

Johnny is a nice guy. But serious. Focussed. Intense. Quite a bit like Ronan O’Gara, actually.

Johnny is a big fan of Joe. He told me that Joe would look at the video of a scoring move for Leinster and point out that the blindside winger – who had no part in the move – was not “animating” enough.

That means he was not moving and behaving as if he was part of the next play, so that the opposition would have a moment’s doubt about where the ball was going.

Now that’s attention to detail.

The papers today are full of Six Nations supplements. Ireland’s first game is this day week against Scotland.

It’s BOD’s last season. Joe is in charge for the first time. There is a feeling that Ireland will play with ambition and – dare I say it – joy. I can’t wait.