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Six Nations: Ireland trying to ‘draw a line under 2019’ – Sexton


Johnny Sexton is tackled by Leigh Halfpenny during Ireland’s impressive win over Wales

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton says his side never felt they needed to reinvent themselves after Andy Farrell replaced Joe Schmidt as head coach.

Farrell took up the role after Ireland crashed out of the World Cup in disappointing fashion.

On Saturday Ireland impressed in a fine 24-14 win over reigning Six Nations champions Wales in Dublin.

“We are trying to look forward, we’re trying to draw a line under last year and 2018,” said Sexton.

Under New Zealander Schmidt, who enjoyed a six-year spell as head coach, Ireland rose to the number one side in the world but appeared to lose their way in a tough 2019.

Last week, lock Iain Henderson praised Farrell’s new approach and said players were relishing the new mentality in camp.

“We are trying to develop something new and do things slightly differently,” Sexton said.

“In saying that I think some of the messages that have come out from our camp haven’t been taken the way they should have been.

“We have taken a lot of what Joe did over the last few years and we’ve built on it and added bits to it.

“To suggest that we have just sort of thrown away everything is just wrong.”

Team meeting set tone for improved display

In Farrell’s first game as head coach Ireland limped to a home win over Scotland, who squandered several big chances to lead.

Against Wales, Farrell’s second game, Ireland looked like a different side in attack where they controlled the contest through a mixture of expansive running rugby and a measured kicking game.

Sexton, appointed captain following the retirement of Rory Best at the end of the World Cup, said a players’ meeting on Friday night helped focus the group on executing their plans.

“We were trying to put responsibility on ourselves to deliver,” said the fly-half.

“We felt that we didn’t do that last week to the best of our ability, we talked about why that was the case.

“It was just about fixing up those little bits that would allow us to get into the game and show some of the stuff we were working on.

“We wanted to show what it meant to us to play for Ireland and we didn’t get a chance to do that last week either really because when it’s a stop-start game you don’t really get to celebrate tries and stuff like that.”

Ireland’s next outing is a trip to face England at Twickenham in two weeks’ time, before hosting Italy in Dublin a fortnight later.



Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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