Ireland: Six Nations Grand Slam would be the ‘stuff of dreams’ for captain Johnny Sexton
Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton says that it would be a special achievement should he captain them to their fourth-ever Six Nations Grand Slam.
Andy Farrell’s men are just one victory away from winning the title and etching their names into the history books following Sunday’s 22-7 triumph over Scotland.
They now face an England team who are licking their wounds after a record home defeat to France on Saturday.
The Red Rose went down 53-10 to Les Bleus which was their biggest-ever loss at Twickenham.
Ireland are expected to get the job done relatively comfortably, despite their injury issues, but Sexton knows that they need to focus.
“It was a very special day (against Scotland) but ultimately it was a semi-final and the big one is next week,” he said.
“It would be the stuff of dreams really. It’s what you grow up wanting to do.
“I don’t know why you grow up wanting to be captain of Ireland, maybe because the players you admire the most were captains, but to do it would be dream-come-true stuff.
“It’s a great group of lads, so to lead them is very special. Who wouldn’t be proud?
“It’s going to be a big week, there will be lots of hype, plenty of distractions, tickets and family and all that and we need to get down to business and get a big performance.”
Sexton is wary of the threat a wounded England could pose, knowing that Steve Borthwick’s men have little to lose, but Ireland are determined to claim the title in front of their fans.
Previous Grand Slam successes in 2009 and 2018 have been done away from the Aviva Stadium, so this would be extra special for the Irish.
“It’s obviously dangerous because they’ve nothing to play for but it will mean a hell of a lot to us to play at home and to try and win something at home,” the fly-half said.
“The times when we have won things, they’ve all been away from home. That’s something we acknowledged from the start that doesn’t come around too often, so it will hopefully be a special day.
“They’re going to be hurting. They’re going to be wanting to show what playing for England means to them and they’re a good team; they’re a better team than they showed (against France).”
Six Nations points record
Sexton kicked seven points on Sunday – two conversions and one penalty – to move level with countryman Ronan O’Gara on the all-time points-scoring list in the Six Nations.
Should the playmaker be fit to play this weekend, the Leinsterman will more than likely move ahead of O’Gara and into first place.
“Rog (O’Gara) will be paying me off to try and retire now,” he joked.
“It’s obviously a nice thing. Hopefully (I will) get back on the pitch next week and it’s all about winning. These other things they can come along but they’re not at the forefront of my mind.”
Ireland will have to win the Grand Slam without the services of Garry Ringrose and Iain Henderson, who have been ruled out of their match with England.
An IRFU statement read: “Garry Ringrose is doing well today and has returned to Dublin. He will take no further part in this year’s Championship.
“Iain Henderson is due to undergo surgery today on a fractured forearm sustained in the first half of yesterday’s game. The uncapped Ross Molony is added to the squad to provide additional second-row cover.
“Both Dan Sheehan and Ronan Kelleher sustained shoulder injuries against Scotland and both will be managed in camp this week. Ulster’s Tom Stewart has been brought in as cover.
“Caelan Doris’ hip complaint will also be managed in camp this week.”
READ MORE: Five takeaways from Scotland v Ireland as Andy Farrell’s charges continue Grand Slam bid despite injury turmoil