IRELAND TALISMAN JOHNNY SEXTON has said that his omission from the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour 'hurt like hell' and 'that it still drives him to this day'.
The Leinster out half was in fine form for Leinster and Ireland. The Dubliner expected to be called up for his third Lions tour, but Lions coach Warren Gatland opted for Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell and Finn Russell ahead of Sexton.
The Lions head coach said that summer: "When we looked at where we were going in South Africa, probably the thing that kept coming back to us was Johnny's durability, and being able to put a string of matches together consecutively, and big matches.
"He has been rested on a number of occasions and unfortunately that's possibly what swayed it for us in terms of us not having the confidence that he can get through what's going to be a tough, physical tour."
Johnny Sexton hasn't made Warren Gatland's 2021 British and Irish Lions squad.
James Ryan, CJ Stander, Garry Ringrose and Keith Earls are among our other notable absentees. pic.twitter.com/MWyqaoRZgS
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) May 6, 2021
A decision that clearly had an effect on Ireland's star 10
Since then, the 37-year--old has gone on to win a first series in New Zealand, another Six Nations, a Triple Crown with Ireland and has been nominated for 'World Player of The Year' again.
Ireland with help from Sexton. have also risen to the top of world rugby rankings after excellent form under Andy Farrell
Sexton speaking to the media this week admitted that his snub for the Lions was the reason for his fine form.
“The Lions selection still drives me to this day,” Sexton said.
“Any time I feel I’m getting a bit ahead of myself I just think back to not being picked for that.
“Again, it’s opinion, isn’t it? The World Player of the Year is a few people’s opinion. They think you’ve done well.
“When it came down to the Lions selection, a few important people thought that I wasn’t the right fit for that team and it hurt like hell.
“It just shows the fickleness of selection and everything, and you don’t want to leave international rugby like that. It’s a big motivating factor.
“I’d rather have got picked and I still think I’d be hungry, but maybe sometimes you need a bit of a stir up like that.
“I’ve never been to South Africa and I always thought: ‘I’ve never been but it’s going to be that tour.’ The coaches thought that I wasn’t the right person for the job, and that’s life. You’ve got to get over it. But you’ve got to use it.”
Sextox's focus will be on the World Cup next year and after that he will see what the future holds
“I just need to concentrate on what’s ahead of me, and that’s all I am doing – concentrating on this season, and trying to make the most of every opportunity I get, and please God get to the World Cup and then see what happens.
Ireland play Australia on Saturday 8pm in the final Autumn Nations Series game.
— Irish Times Sport (@IrishTimesSport) November 17, 2022