Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton confirmed that he is fit and ready to play against France for the first time in three years ahead of the massive showdown on Saturday.
Sexton has passed a head injury assessment (HIA) and recovered from a dead leg in time for Saturday’s game, which could be definitive in the title race.
The playmaker has not played against France since Ireland lost 35-27 in 2020, where the veteran was frustrated for being subbed off during the game.
“No more hiccups”
The Irishman is looking for “no more hiccups” ahead of the massive clash and is looking forward to running out at the Aviva Stadium.
“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,” said 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.”
Fixing past memory
Sexton knows it is a big clash against their biggest title rivals this year and wants to set memories from years gone straight with a win on Saturday.
“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,” he said.
“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.
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“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.”
France fly-half Romain Ntamack labelled Ireland as favourites for the clash, which does not bother Sexton.
“I don’t really mind, the favourites tag is not something we mention internally,” he said
“Being number one in the world, the public or the press will do it or the opposition will, but it comes down to the performance on the day.
“If we’re favourites, we’re favourites. It doesn’t really bother me if that’s what he says.”