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Catt backs Sexton's World Cup ambition


Johnny Sexton in action during yesterday’s Captain’s Run. Photo: INPHO

Johnny Sexton in action during yesterday’s Captain’s Run. Photo: INPHO

Johnny Sexton in action during yesterday’s Captain’s Run. Photo: INPHO

Mike Catt firmly believes that Johnny Sexton can follow his lead by playing on until his late 30s, as Ireland's attack coach called for patience with regard to the new framework he has introduced.

Sexton will captain Ireland this afternoon, as the veteran out-half returns from a hamstring injury to lead Ireland in their third-fourth place Autumn Nations Cup play-off against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium (2.15).

Earlier this week, the 35-year old reiterated his desire to sign a new contract in the coming weeks, with the intention of playing on until the 2023 World Cup.

Catt managed to prolong his playing career until he was 39, and the former England international sees no reason why Sexton can't do the same.

"I think it's just the love of the game that drove me, I didn't want to do anything else in life and I think Johnny doesn't particularly want to do anything else," Catt said.

"Johnny is all about rugby and he's massively passionate about the game, about Leinster and about Irish rugby.

“I went until I was 39 so I understand what he’s going through. I think the big one is enjoying his rugby. He’s a huge figure within the team. He drives the standards,” Catt added.

“We all know what Johnny is about, but first and foremost I think each individual has to make sure that they perform themselves and he’s a big driver in that.

“Depending on injury on everything that goes with it, sometimes it’s out of your control, but at the moment where he is mindset-wise, he is very well capable (of playing at the next World Cup), yes.”

Farrell’s men are under pressure to deliver a big performance, as well as a result against a resurgent Scotland. A year into the job, Catt’s attack hasn’t yet fired on all cylinders, but he has called for more time to implement what is a new game-plan.

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“I think we’ve progressed really, really well in certain areas,” he said. “There are still certain areas where we need to go to probably another two or three levels. Our execution last week wasn’t acceptable.

“We went over the try-line three times and couldn’t score a try. So these are all little things that are fixable.

“But again, when you try to do that all-court game it takes time unfortunately and I think as a group of coaches we believe where we’re going is the right way.”

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