Saturday 19 October 2019

I would have learned from Wilkinson's experience, insists Sexton

Jonny Sexton
Jonny Sexton

Mark Bryans

Leinster out-half Jonny Sexton has revealed he would have loved the opportunity to learn from Jonny Wilkinson had the Englishman been selected to tour with the Lions this summer.

Wilkinson (33) was a high-profile omission from Warren Gatland's 37-man squad named last month, with Sexton and Saracens' Owen Farrell the two No 10s selected.

Sexton (pictured) may only face opposition from Farrell for the out-half berth but would rather have the experience of Wilkinson alongside him in the squad.

"A lot of people have said to me that it is great he wasn't picked because it gives me a better chance now," he said. "But I look at it the other way. I would have liked him to go and would have loved to have learned from him, he is a bit of a legend. I obviously looked up to him when I was 16 and he was winning the World Cup with England."

Sexton will move to French Top 14 side Racing Metro following the Lions tour, after just under a decade turning out for Leinster.

He admits he may sneak in a few French lessons during his time away on tour and is feeling in good shape after an injury lay-off earlier this season.

"Hopefully I've used up all of my injuries for the year over the past few months," he said. "It feels strange to be so fresh at this time of the year – I feel I'm just starting after two months off. I'm starting to get a bit of match fitness and sharpness back, so hopefully I will peak at the right time for the two finals (Pro12 and Amlin Cup) with Leinster and then the tour."

With Sexton's Leinster and Ireland team-mate Brian O'Driscoll missing the first Lions' squad meeting in London due to a back injury, the idea of not making the tour will be picking away at the players until the first Test in Brisbane on June 22.

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But although Sexton admits the threat of injury remains constant, it is not something that is playing on his mind during the important fixtures coming up.

"Since the squad has been picked, at the back of the mind you're praying that it doesn't happen," he said. "But once you get out on the pitch your competitiveness comes through and it is the last thing you think about."

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