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Sexton determined to forge more good memories at Stade de France

Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton says the lessons learned from their opening Six Nations game are ...



Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton says the lessons learned from their opening Six Nations game are a lot easier to take than a year ago. 

Andy Farrell takes his squad to Paris this weekend off the back of a convincing performance at home to Wales.

Ireland were in almost complete control from the third minute, when Bundee Aki crossed for the first of four tries.

But there has been criticism too, with only 29 points put on a very poor Welsh team and the manner of the concession of Taine Basham's consolation try five-minutes from time.

Sitting down with the media for the first time after that game, Sexton admitted that improvement is needed if they're to take something from Paris on Saturday.

"It's across the board really," said the skipper, "because there was lots of good stuff in - just say one area of the game - say, our defence.

"But then there was like a couple of moments where we didn't quite win. We're always trying to win as many moments as we can, and when you don't you need to learn from them.

"That's what we've always done. The best teams - when they win - they learn still, and they take the lessons from victory. We definitely do that.

"I think we did that in November really well off the back of the Japan game, and New Zealand game.

"I hope that we'll learn a lot having beaten Wales. We learned some hard lessons last year in the first two games - the key thing about that was two losses, and everything to play for was gone.

"Whereas now, we've got a win and it's a nicer place to be when you're learning."

Ireland's last meeting with France was also the occasion of their last defeat, with Italy, Scotland, England, Japan (twice), the USA, New Zealand and Argentina all put to the sword.

However, just two of those wins have come away from home, leading some to wonder if the improvements under Farrell have been properly tested.

But Sexton says a result on Saturday not only matters to their Six Nations campaign, but also further down the line.

"Obviously we're going to the Stade de France in 18-months' time, we're going to have two group games in a World Cup," he said, "It would be good to have good memories of the place.

"Away from home, you just need to realise what you're up against - you're up against... it'll be a hostile crowd, the 50-50 decisions tend to go against you. That's what you come up against.

"In terms of once the game starts, it's still the same size pitch, and same ball.

"Like I said, we're just focusing on our performance. We haven't spoken too much yet about the fact that it's away, but we're hoping that there's a big away performance in us."

Paris has been the venue to some of the biggest moments of Sexton's career - be it his winning drop goal in 2018, or his two seasons as a Racing 92 player.

Sexton believes those two years in the Top 14 added more to his game than was available back home.

"I actually remember talking to Matt O'Connor at the time, when I was coming back to Leinster," said the 36-year old, "and we spoke time in France and he was telling me that he thinks it will have made me a better player.

"Because you've had to learn how to try and win in a different way.

"I was so used to the Leinster way, to the Joe Schmidt way with Ireland and Leinster over the years, and then to get exposed to a set-up in Racing that was very different - you did learn a lot about yourself, and how a team runs and how it operates.

"I think I'm definitely better for the experience, and I definitely learned a lot when I was over there."

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