Johnny Sexton believes Tadhg Furlong has "come out of his shell more" as part of a leadership group encouraged and fostered under Ireland head coach Andy Farrell.

The Ireland captain views the current international group as generally quiet but leaders by example primarily.

But he also seen a change of emphasis in terms of the responsibility placed on players under Farrell in comparison to the Joe Schmidt era.

"I think they've really come out of their shell over the last year. I think Faz has been encouraging them," he said.

"Joe did have a leadership group but he didn't encourage them as much as Faz does to really take ownership of it and drive things. It's good both ways, like under Joe it's brilliant, you sit in, you get the plan, you get the way to go forward and you buy in and you do own it and you do take control of it. 

"But it's just different. It's brilliant as well here that you're trying to get guys to improve themselves as people and leaders and we're going in the right direction."

Sexton, Peter O'Mahony, James Ryan and Furlong are among Ireland's leaders

Furlong is one of the main examples, with the Leinster prop now having a chance to embed himself back into the leadership group after a pre-Six Nations injury absence.

"He's one of the guys that has massively stepped up, especially since he's come back from his injury," said Sexton.

"We missed him. He was in the leadership group last year but we've missed him in that regard. He's again, a quietly spoken guy, but he's really switched on and he's got an outstanding rugby brain.

"Since he's come back, I don't know what he's done over the last 10 months, but he's really come out of his shell and taken a huge leadership role within the group and going forward, he'll play a massive part in that as well."

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And on the overall trajectory on the pitch ahead of this weekend's Scotland clash, Sexton is confident about Ireland's progression but is also mindful of playing to the conditions with wet and windy weather expected at Murrayfield.

"It's not always going to be the way it was in terms of the opportunities presented itself to run the ball [against Italy] but if it's not on this weekend against Scotland in a wet Murrayfield, then we're not going to be doing it. We're not going to do it to crowd please, we're here to win rugby matches and we get judged on that."

Follow Scotland v Ireland (kick-off 3pm, Sunday) via our live blog on and the RTÉ News app or listen live on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport. Highlights on Against the Head on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, 8pm Monday.