Friday 16 November 2018

Johnny Sexton says he 'definitely' wants to play this summer - and explains why Australia series is so important

3 February 2018; Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France in Paris, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
3 February 2018; Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France in Paris, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Despite Ireland having claimed the Grand Slam only last weekend, thoughts are already turning towards the summer tour of Australia with a view to furthering preparations for the 2019 World Cup.

Winning a three-test series in the southern hemisphere would be a real statement of intent ahead of the showpiece tournament, especially after Ireland came up just short in South Africa in 2016.

However, after a busy summer in 2017 with the Lions tour and a physically taxing Six Nations under their belts - as well as a busy end to the club season on the horizon - some have suggested that Joe Schmidt would be better off in resting star players like Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray and Tadhg Furlong.

All three starred en route to Grand Slam glory and Sexton, speaking to The Left Wing podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, says that he has every intention of pulling on the green jersey down under this summer.

"As a player you want to play, I want to play for Ireland as many times as I can and the same with Leinster," Sexton said.

"We are very well looked after in Ireland and one of the biggest reasons in coming back to Ireland was to be under that IRFU umbrella. I want to play as many games and if I'm fit, I definitely want to go."

One of the big reasons Sexton is desperate to be involved this summer is that beating Australia away from home would be a 'box ticked' ahead of the World Cup in Japan.

"When you are thinking about the World Cup in a few years time you want to tick as many boxes as you can to give yourself confidence going into it," he said.

"We can beat teams at home but you don't get a home game in a World Cup and we have to know that we can beat these big teams away from home too.

"Leading into a World Cup it is important to tick boxes along the way and beating Australia away from home would definitely be one of those so I would be mad keen on going."

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.

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