Farrell wants Ireland players to 'step up' in Sexton's permanent absence

Farrell wants Ireland players to 'step up' in Sexton's permanent absence

Ireland's Andy Farrell has expressed his desire to see members of the Irish squad step up to replace the once-present Johnny Sexton. The Irish team, current Six Nations champions and Grand Slam holders, will kick off their campaign against France this coming Friday, aiming to defend their crown without the influential Sexton, who was the fulcrum of the team on and off the pitch.

It is now time for players like Jack Crowley and Ciaran Frawley to fill the void left by Sexton in the Irish squad. Farrell, speaking this week, acknowledged the gap left by the Leinster and Ireland legend but urged the current squad to step up in the coming weeks and months.

"There will be a void, obviously," Farrell said. "I've got my first meeting at 4.30, and after that, people start filling it out right away and making sure that they fully understand what we're about. That's their team, and it's not just the coaches trying to tell them what to do. It's their team."

"Of course, with the experience they've got, they understand what that looks like. But some responsibilities might be a little bit different, trying to fill that gap and going, 'You know what? I'm going to put myself out there,’ whether it be a certain position, the social committee, the leadership committee, or whatever. We want to see people stepping up all the time, so hopefully we get back up and running in that regard pretty quickly."

Head coach Andy Farrell with former player Johnny Sexton. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland will also be without Australian-born Mack Hansen, and Farrell expects someone else to step in and perform exceptionally, just like Hansen. "Mack has been around for a while and played a lot of games for us and grown massively within that, but it's someone else's opportunity," Farrell added.

"Hugo Keenan deserves all the caps that he's got, and he's a world-class full-back. He has played a lot of games as well; I'm just using him as an example. If he goes down injured, it's somebody else's opportunity. You've got to expect that because there's nothing worse than people getting injured."

Ireland will open their Six Nations campaign against France in Marseille on February 2, followed by fixtures against Italy, Wales, England, and Scotland. All three of Ireland’s home matches at Aviva Stadium are sold out, with RTÉ and Virgin Media providing free-to-air coverage in the Republic of Ireland and BBC and ITV broadcasting in the United Kingdom.

Ireland Six Nations campaign February 2:

Ireland vs. France (8 p.m. Irish time, Orange Velodrome in Marseille)

February 11: Ireland vs. Italy at Aviva Stadium (3 p.m.)

February 24: Ireland vs. Wales at Aviva Stadium (2.15 p.m.)

March 9: England vs. Ireland at Twickenham (4.45 p.m.)

March 16: Ireland vs. Scotland at Aviva Stadium (4.45 p.m.)