Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 26 October 2021

'We can be better': Johnny Sexton demanding more relentless attack from Ireland

‘If you sit back against them, like we did at times, they punish you.’

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

JONATHAN SEXTON WILL continue to demand the absolute best from his Ireland team-mates as they look to build on history in Saturday’s rematch with New Zealand (kick-off 17.30) in Dublin.

A fortnight ago, Joe Schmidt’s side put in an incredible display to finally beat the All Blacks at the 29th time of asking. Yet despite scoring five tries in the win, the coaching staff and camp have continually touched on the four tries conceded in Soldier Field.

“Even though we got the win, the review was pretty harsh,” said Jonathan Sexton after being named in the starting line-up this afternoon.

“We feel we can be better, which is a good thing. We know they will be a lot better so we’ll just go out and try and implement our gameplan again, put in the best performance we can and we’ll see where that gets us.”

The 31-year-old out-half admitted that that the long-awaited win over New Zealand was ‘a monkey off the back’, but warned that the cold and wet conditions forecast will make it more difficult to attack the world champions as relentlessly as they did in the warm Chicago sunshine.

If you sit back against them, like we did at times, they punish you. So it’s easier said than done, but we have to keep on attacking when we can with or without the ball. And, yeah, that’ll be part of the plan this week, but how we attack them will depend on the conditions really.”

The period of sitting back Sexton mentions saw Steve Hansen’s side roar back from a 22-point deficit to make the gap just 29 – 33. Sexton had left the field when Ireland stopped the tide from a complete about-turn, but credited the cool heads on the field with getting back on track.

“We just got back to the plan, and there was some good play by the lads that got us back down there and we took our chances.

Jonathan Sexton Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Obviously, Robbie (Henshaw) with that great finish off the set play. That was really it.

“When we sat back was when we got ourselves into trouble and then the guys took the front foot again. We took the front foot, got back down into their territory and we were really clinical. You saw at times our defence was obviously a lot better and, at other times, when we made those system errors we got punished.”

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