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'I'm well used to the criticism, I've had it for my whole career... keep it coming'

Johnny Sexton feels Ireland could have dealt with England’s linespeed better.

IRELAND CAPTAIN JOHNNY Sexton says he was gutted with his performance in his team’s 24-12 defeat to England last weekend.

The 34-year-old has come in for his fair share of criticism in the wake of the loss in London, where he missed two goal-kicks and had a couple of other errant touches with the boot, as well as making an error for England’s opening try as the ball cruelly bounced away from him.

johnny-sexton Sexton at Ireland training in Dublin today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Speaking after Ireland’s open training session in Dublin today, Sexton said he is well used to facing such criticism.

“I’m my biggest critic,” said Sexton. “So I was gutted for the last three or four days, absolutely gutted with my performance.

“I was full of confidence going into the game and sometimes you have one of those days where the bounce of the ball, you let it affect you, and the knock-on is a few errors.”

“I’m happy with how I came out in the second half. Not a day I’ll remember fondly but it is what it is. I’ve had it throughout my career where you have one of those games every, it might be a season or it could be a couple of seasons or it might be a run of games but it is what it is.

“Once you prepare well and have the best intentions to perform and do everything you can to perform. Most of the time it happens and sometimes it doesn’t.

“It is what it is and I’m well used to the criticism, I’ve had it for my whole career. One week you’re good and one week you’re bad, so keep it coming.”

Having gone through their review of the England defeat, Sexton said there is a huge amount his team can learn from their shortcomings as they now look towards a visit to Paris following the postponement of their clash with Italy.

“There’s a lot, there’s a lot,” said Sexton. “Just how one thing can have a knock-on effect when you have a plan and you don’t quite get it to where you want to go, what you do next. So, lots of things across the whole game, across the board really.

a-disappointed-johnny-sexton-after-the-game-2322020 Sexton was absolutely gutted with his performance last weekend. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“It’s tough to learn, you don’t want to learn those lessons because we felt we were building well. After a great performance against Wales which we felt there was more in us we thought we’d get that out of us but England, obviously, made life more difficult for us and we didn’t adapt well enough.

“We didn’t adapt well enough early and that’s our fault as players, we got to be able to change things on the run. We’ve learnt that now and hopefully, we’ll be better for it.” 

England’s defence put severe pressure on Ireland at Twickenham, suffocating the Irish attack with their linespeed at times.

Head coach Andy Farrell and attack coach Mike Catt’s game plan appeared to revolved around attempting to get the ball wide even against that linespeed, with several instances of Irish players being caught ball-and-all as they looked to the width.

Sexton said Ireland could have countered that linespeed more effectively.

“We had a great game plan to try and cope with that,” said Sexton. “A lot of it revolved around trying to get to the space early. We couldn’t get there, for one reason or another, and then we kept trying to get there and we kept making things worse.

“So yeah, that was the disappointing part, the space that we got to against Wales and Scotland at times – obviously not as much against Scotland – we couldn’t get there.

“Some of that was their good defence but we were well prepared for that type of linespeed because we’ve played against it before, and we just didn’t execute well enough and it has a knock-on effect for maybe a poor delivery, poor first-phase execution, and then you’re struggling a bit.

“It sounds simple, but sometimes the answers are simple.”

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Murray Kinsella

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