INPHO/Ryan Byrne Sexton says Ireland's younger players now need to take on more responsibility.
# Interview
Jonathan Sexton: Irish rugby in transition phase
The fly-half acknowledges that “it’s time now for younger guys to come in and start taking ownership of the team”.

IRELAND FLY-HALF Jonny Sexton has thrown down the gauntlet to the nation’s youngsters, challenging them to perform consistently.

With Ireland’s most capped player Ronan O’Gara and all-time leading try scorer Brian O’Driscoll in the twilight of their careers, Declan Kidney’s men are in a period of transition ahead of this year’s Six Nations.

But while Sexton acknowledged it is a changing of the guard, he has called on the younger brigade to make their mark on the team.

“Playing with guys like O’Driscoll has been an honour for me and I’d put a lot of other players in that bracket,” Sexton told Sky Sports.

“You learn so much from these guys but it’s time now for the younger guys to come in and start taking ownership of the team.

“Those guys earned their reputation by producing in an Ireland jersey year in year out – the younger guys, we’ve produced on occasion but we haven’t done it consistently and that’s what we need to do now going forward.”

The Leinster representative is right in the mix for a spot to tour with the British and Irish Lions to Australia in June, thanks to his performances in the Rabo Direct Pro12 competition.

However, Sexton is ignoring the hype, preferring to focus on the task at hand.

“It’s something I desperately want to go on but it’s not worth thinking about right now,” he said.

“I need to concentrate on my week-to-week performances.

“People say it’s the pinnacle and it is. Only the best players get picked and it will be a massive honour for anyone who is picked.

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