Sexton knows France will target him

Date published: October 5 2015

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton has absolutely no doubt that he will be targeted when his team play against France in a crucial Pool D fixture at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

Ireland and France are both on 14 points in their Pool, making the fixture critical in the context of the quarter-finals. Central to their concerns is a possible clash against the dreaded All Blacks in the last eight. The alternative is a possible match against Argentina, which is somewhat more appealing.

Sexton thinks France's modus operandi will be to use their battering-ram Mathieu Bastareaud to put him off, and he feels that he is physically and mentally prepared for it.

"He's a hard man to stop and I know it better than most," said Sexton of Bastareaud.

"I've come off second-best a couple of times but he sucks in a lot of defenders and he looks like he's got himself in really good shape," added Sexton.

The Ireland fly-half does not think that the French onslaught will end there though, as the French team is well-rounded and dynamic.

"It's the same for all their players, I think they possess power all across their backline and pace to burn as well. So we've got to be on top of our game from that point of view, and I'm sure we'll come up with some kind of plan to help us stop him.

"They said before the last game they were going to come down my channel because I was obviously coming back from a lay-off, and I don't see it being any different this time.

"You always want to target the opposition 10 and I'm sure they'll go there again. I don't know if I like the physicality, but it's part and parcel of the modern game."

Sexton also said that the match itself would not come down to how he defends, in isolation, adding that the team unit will still be a critical aspect this weekend.