Six Nations: Johnny Sexton grateful Ireland coaches backed his longevity after 2019 World Cup

Dylan Coetzee
six nations Ireland coach Andy Farrell and captain Johnny Sexton discuss before a game

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton is grateful that head coach Andy Farrell and his team had faith after the 2019 Rugby World Cup that he would make another cycle.

The playmaker will turn 38 years old in July and is still performing brilliantly for Ireland at the highest level.

Sexton’s influence on the side over the last four years has only grown with each season, and his longevity has proved to be remarkable.

However, the fly-half insists this weekend is not about him. It is about Ireland putting together their best performance against England and claiming the Grand Slam.

Grateful for backing

“I think what I’ve done is surround myself with good people,” Sexton told the Irish Mirror. “I’m very blessed to have the coaches that I have who have put their faith in me post the last World Cup.

“A lot of other coaches would have said, ‘There’s no chance he can get there’. So, yeah, it’s the people that you rely on, your teammates.

“It’s very hard to sit here and talk about myself all the time. It’s not about me this week; it’s about something bigger. It’s about the Grand Slam; it’s about the championship.

“But we need to try and get away from that as well. We need to get our best-ever performance out there because it’s going to be needed.”

The captain levelled countryman Ronan O’Gara’s record for the most Six Nations points of all-time with 557, and Sexton is honoured to share the accolade with his old teammate before he goes on to claim it for himself this weekend.

Sexton claims he is not focused on the record and tipped Owen Farrell to “smash” it in due course.

“We were talking last week after I got asked about it here,” smiled Sexton. “I haven’t spoken to him this week. I’ve had the phone off (with) people looking for tickets!

“He hasn’t asked me for tickets yet, but no, we talk from time to time, and often it’s about everything except rugby.

“It’s funny how we’re both level now. I hope I get out there on Saturday and score so we can win.

“It’s not to beat the record, but it’s obviously very special to be up there with him, someone that I admired for so many years, and you look at other guys on the list, I’m not sure it will last very long if I do get it because I think Owen Farrell will go and smash it.

“But, look, take it as it comes.”

Big support

The star acknowledged the huge support his team are receiving and looks to inspire the country with a win.

“On big weeks, the messages do come in,” he said. “The amount of support we’ve had throughout the championship has been incredible.

“It’s not lost on us. We do acknowledge it, and we do speak about it.

“Number one for us is inspiring the country. That’s number one. That’s the first thing that we have on the list.

“All the other stuff comes next: performance, winning – but trying to do everyone proud is definitely it, and the support we get on these weeks makes you understand why you appreciate it so much.”

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