'It wouldn't be a crazy age to get picked' - Johnny Sexton setting his sights on 2021 Lions tour to South Africa
Johnny Sexton will be 33 this summer and although many people think the 2019 World Cup could be his swansong, the Ireland star has set himself an ambitious target at the end of his career.
Sexton has played on two Lions tours, and is unbeaten after winning the series in Australia in 2013 and leaving New Zealand with a draw last summer. The Ireland out-half is keen to complete the set with a trip to South Africa in 2021, by which time he will almost be 36.
However, given the high level Sexton continues to play at in his thirties, there doesn't appear to be an obvious reason why he can't continue at a high level for a number of years to come.
Speaking on The Ray D'arcy show on RTE Radio 1 this afternoon, Sexton outlined his ambitions for the next few years as he comes towards the end of his career.
"The World Cup and then to try to get on a third Lions tour," Sexton said of his remaining goals.
"I'd be 35, which as an out-half wouldn't be a crazy age to get picked. Obviously there are a lot of young guys coming through and staying ahead of them would be the big challenge. Trying to keep improving is the big motivation for me. I think there is a lot more in me and hopefully I can keep improving over the next number of years."
Sexton also revealed that he is taking inspiration from NFL legend Tom Brady as he looks to maximise his potential at the tail-end of his career. Brady recently set the record for most passing yards in a Super Bowl at age 40, and has won two championships since turning 37.
Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster introduced Sexton to the New England Patriots star's story, and he has since become 'obsessed'.
"We have some great influences with the coaches in Ireland and at Leinster with Stuart Lancaster, he has got me obsessed with Tom Brady," Sexton said.
"I didn't know Tom Brady myself about a year ago. I didn't watch any American football but he is the most successful quarterback in the history of the NFL. Stuart Lancaster has got me convinced I'm going to play 'til I'm 40 and my wife is going mad.
"I'm reading up on him and trying to figure out how to prolong my career as long as possible."
Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.