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Johnny Sexton breaks down where he went wrong against England


Ireland's Johnny Sexton has had plenty of time to reflect on a disappointing defeat to England in the Six Nations, as he revealed on Thursday's OTB AM.

The third of Ireland's games in this year's competition, a convincing 24-12 defeat in Twickenham came without the usual possibility of making immediate amends.

As the spread of coronavirus brought about the postponement of almost every sporting event, Johnny Sexton can do little but wonder now when Ireland might eventually take on Italy and France.

Although the Ireland captain explained that the emphasis had already shifted toward these games within the camp, and that their post-match assessment of the England game had been completed before the postponements were announced, he has since had time to reflect on  his personal performance against the beaten World Cup finalists.

"I wouldn't be the best at parking something like that when I've had a pretty poor day myself," he admitted. "I felt that I'd let the team down so I wanted to get back out there and was pretty fired up for the French game.

"I'm still looking forward to my next game and try to erase England from my mind."

Divided between some of the mistakes made collectively and him as an individual, Johnny Sexton reflected openly on the defeat.

"There were some things from a team point of view," he began. "It can be hard when you've got a great plan in place but you're not getting it where you need it to go.

"Where I was disappointed was that I was trying to force that game plan even though that we weren't getting the ball we wanted to to implement it. That's from the team point of view and I had a part in that."

From Joe Schmidt to Andy Farrell, although much of Ireland's playing personnel remains unchanged Sexton is adamant that the English head coach has introduced a fresh plan that the players are perhaps yet adapting to.

"From an individual point of view, look, the first mistake essentially came down to the bounce of a ball," he commented with a nod toward George Ford's opening try. "I could do that again ten times and the ball doesn't bounce like that nine times."

"What I was disappointed with though is that I didn't recover, didn't take the time myself to gather my thoughts," he admitted with hindsight.

After such an uncharacteristic error from the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year, things became progressively worse.

"Suddenly, you're standing over a kick thinking, 'Right, this will get us back into it'," he recalled. "Your mind drags you into thinking what will happen after you get this kick.

"Before you know it you've made another mistake."

Nevertheless, Johnny Sexton is already looking forward.

As he approaches his 35th birthday, there must be an awareness that he is coming somewhat close to the end of his international career. Rather than allow a disappointing afternoon in Twickenham to deflate him, he's taking what he can from it to ensure that it won't happen again.

"They're the small things that are easily fixed and you'd think a player of my age and experience would know already," he explained. "I was trying to gather the lads in and talk to them as opposed to taking a moment myself. There were lots of learnings there.

"A lot of people would brush it under the carpet, but I want to use it."

Related Articles:

'You don't expect past players to jump on the bandwagon' | Johnny Sexton

You can watch Johnny Sexton's interview with Thursday's OTB AM here

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Coronavirus Covid-19 Ireland Irish Rugby Football Union Johnny Sexton Leinster Rugby Union Six Nations

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