Johnny Sexton, 37, kicked 12 points as Ireland began Six Nations with 34-10 thumping of Wales; Sexton set to be fit to face France in Dublin on Saturday; head coach Andy Farrell says Ireland’s “best fans in the world” will get behind their team against defending champions
Last Updated: 06/02/23 9:48am
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says he has no concerns over Johnny Sexton’s age following the 37-year’s return to action after injury.
Fly-half Sexton said he had never been more nervous before a game going into Saturday’s 34-10 victory over Wales in the Six Nations, which was only his second match in three months.
The Leinster back kicked 12 points in Cardiff as Ireland began their campaign in style, with the team’s next match at home to reigning Six Nations champions France on Saturday.
Sexton is expected to be fit for that fixture in Dublin despite leaving the field against Wales nine minutes from time due to a dead leg.
Farrell said of Sexton: “There’s no doubt about his age in our mind.
“I spoke to him over the last two weeks constantly that there’s no excuse and he needs to be at his best. He cares about his rugby so much and doing such a good job for his team.
“We’re trying to get him to a point where he’s going to be at his best even though he hasn’t played for so long.
“How he handles that, how he runs a team, makes the team feel right and then goes out and performs at the same time.
“His goal-kicking was excellent (on Saturday) and that’s testament to his character.”
Farrell: Ireland fans ‘best in world’ at getting behind their team
France – who came through a scare to beat Italy 29-24 in their Six Nations opener in Rome on Sunday – are the only major nation Farrell is yet to beat during his tenure, with Ireland having lost three successive Six Nations meetings with Fabien Galthié’s team.
Farrell said: “I think everyone realises what’s coming next week. We know what an outstanding side France are and the challenges they are going to bring.
“There’s one thing about an Irish crowd – when there’s a big game and they know they have to get behind the team they are the best in the world. There’s no doubt about that.”
Speaking shortly after the win over Wales, Farrell had said: “I’m delighted to get off to a good start because as we all know this is a really difficult place to start the campaign. Our history says exactly that.
“But our preparation has been top drawer and we got what we deserved. At the same time there’s plenty to do, to fix and get better. It’s not a bad place to be.”
Ireland make ideal Six Nations start
Ireland made an ideal start to their 2023 Six Nations campaign, as they secured a first championship victory over Wales in Cardiff since 2013, notching a bonus-point 34-10 win to spoil Warren Gatland’s return.
Ireland, despite being without key duo Robbie Henshaw (wrist) and Tadhg Furlong (calf) due to injury, and losing scrum-half Jamison Gibson Park and replacement loosehead Cian Healy on the day of the Test due to hamstring injuries, flew out of the traps under a closed roof at the Principality Stadium and did not look back from there.
Wales registered points through a Dan Biggar penalty and a converted Liam Williams try, but they also lost Williams to a sin-binning and were firmly second best, leaving Gatland and co with much to do.
Follow text updates from Ireland vs France (2.15pm start) on skysports.com and the Sky Sports App on Saturday.
Source : Sky Sports