Rugby

'It's Amazing How People's Opinions Can Change In A Couple Of Months'

'It's Amazing How People's Opinions Can Change In A Couple Of Months'

Johnny Sexton believes that Ireland have not peaked too early ahead of this year's World Cup in Japan.

"I didn't think we'd peaked when we won the Grand Slam and I didn't think we'd peaked when we beat the All Blacks either," said MACE ambassador Sexton.

"It's amazing how people's opinions can change in the space of a couple of months. We beat the All Blacks and all the (public) talk was 'nothing's going to stop us winning the World Cup' and then, three or four games later, we're the worst team ever and people think we peaked."

Neither does the Ireland out-half feel that Ireland underperformed in this year's Six Nations due to the announcement that it would be Joe Schmidt's last as head coach.

"People have been coming up with conspiracy theories after the Six Nations, that we under-performed because it was Joe's last campaign etc... but it had nothing to do with any of that," said Sexton.

I don't think it's anything we'll speak about but, at the same time, we are conscious of the fact that we want to send him off on a high. There's players too that will finish up at the end of the World Cup, that will be playing their last games in green, that we'll want to send off on a high too.

So all of that stuff will be going through your head but, when it comes down to an actual game and what's happening in it, it probably doesn't matter so there's not much point in talking about it. It's not going to make the performance better or worse on the day.

Joe's legacy will live on no matter what. He has had the best record by a mile of any Irish coach. No matter what happens between now and then end of his tenure, no one's come close.

What he has taught us will continue to live on through the players and the coaches that have worked with him. When Andy Farrell takes over he's not just going to discard everything Joe did, a lot of what we've done over the last few years will continue, that's Joe's legacy.

Sexton added that the Irish team will go to the World Cup in a good place: knowing what it's like to lose but also to win.

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"We had a lot of high points during the season – some of Leinster's performances in Europe, the All-Blacks game, the French game in Six Nations - but also a lot of lows.

"The Wales game was like a Cup final and then there was the European Cup final against Saracens. Those losses will live with you forever, so to put a small high point on the end of it (beating Glasgow in the PRO14 final), it does change your form for the summer holidays.

"But it really doesn't gloss over the losses. We were really devastated by the Wales game and European Cup final and they will go with us for the rest of the season and our careers.

"I know there's a cliché about 'only learning when you lose' but when win you do learn something, you learn how good it is, you learn everything that goes with winning, the celebrations and the memories you make. Those are the moments that you live for, that you play the game and try so hard for, so they are important.

"Of course you learn things from losing but you also miss those winning moments so I think we're in a good place now. No matter who's going to the World Cup they've all won things – whether with Ireland or European Cups with Leinster. Everyone going to Japan knows what it's like to win and also what it's like to lose and I think that's actually the best of both worlds."

Ireland rugby star Johnny Sexton visited Caherline National School, Limerick, to deliver a coaching masterclass to students as part of the MACE, ÒGoing the Extra SmileÓ campaign.

Caherline National School won the prize thanks to their random act of kindness in their local community. MACE, IrelandÕs longest serving convenience brand, is rooted in local communities with over 160 stores nationwide.

Photo credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan & Sportsfile

See Also: Player Ratings As Ireland U20s Smash England In World Cup Opener

PJ Browne
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