IRELAND CAPTAIN JOHNNY SEXTON has given Ireland a major boost ahead of the France game this weekend by claiming 'that he would be ready to last the 80 minutes'.
The Leinster half back came off in the 34-10 win over Wales last Saturday in with what was a supposed HIA, but Andy Farrell has refuted that and said it was an issue with 'a dead le.g
Ireland were beaten to the Six Nations title and the Grand Slam by France last year, a game Sexton didn't play in.
The 37-year-old's last game against France was 35-27 defeat in Paris at the end of the Covid affected 2020 tournament. He also missed the 2021 13-15 defeat in Dublin.
“I was saying this morning, the last two Wednesdays before France over the last two fixtures I’ve ended up pulling out, so to get through today is great,” added Sexton. “I can look forward to the game, hopefully no more hiccups.
“Obviously the confusion around the HIA and stuff like that, there’s nothing I can control about that, but I’ll be ready to go for 80 this week if needed.
“It feels like a huge game. There’s no point in saying anything otherwise. You can’t just come in here and say ‘it’s just another game’ because it’s not, it’s one we’ve waited a long time for, and I’ve read that they want this test – to come to the Aviva and try and overturn us. It’s a huge game.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 8, 2023
Ireland's record against France has continued to improve over the years, but it wasn't always like that.
During the early 90's and noughties, Ireland could not get over the French hump until fortunes started to change.
Nowadays Ireland's chances against the French are far better, but for Sexton that 'underdog' tag has never left him.
“They are always big weeks, often for me something comes out of the woodwork in French week and I’m expecting something later in the week, "Sexton admitted.
“It’s always a big game; I grew up in an era of watching Ireland lose to France, heavily, to then sort of see the first teams beating them and then to be part of teams beating them has been amazing.
“But you still have those memories from a young kid of France coming and demolishing Ireland. You probably naturally feel the underdog at my age, whereas the younger lads probably don’t. It’s a strange mixture in the squad.”
Ireland's game against France starts at 14.15 on Saturday.
The game can be seen live on RTE Two.