Andy Farrell guarantees that Johnny Sexton will be fit and ready for a trip to Paris | Six Nations 2023
Andy Farrell has dismissed any concerns that Johnny Sexton could miss Ireland’s decisive game against France in Dublin next weekend. The Irish captain was nursing a dead leg after a collision with Liam Williams, for which the Welsh full-back was shown a yellow card, but the injury is not serious.
Williams went in the trash for making contact with Sexton’s head. When the latter received treatment after the collision, the referee insisted that he leave for an assessment of head injuries. Sexton protested that he was being treated for a leg injury. He thus passed the HIA.
Sexton was playing for the first time since New Year’s Day when he suffered a cheekbone injury that required surgery. The 37-year-old looked to come back easily, scoring 12 points against Wales with five from five kicks. Farrell praised his character and dismissed any suggestions that he might be getting too old for any of this.
“There is no doubt about his age in our minds,” he said. “I have spoken to him constantly for the past two weeks. I told him there were no excuses. He said he had never been so nervous before a game. The way he handles this and leads the team, making them feel good, and then going out and playing at the same time speaks to his character.
There will be no room for doubts in Dublin next weekend. Ireland have lost their last three games against France, who raced to take the lead in Paris last year. “Not being ourselves was the main thing,” Farrell said. “We didn’t attack the game like we can in the first 15, 20 minutes. We got back into the game and had a chance to win. So being ourselves from the start would help.
Ireland showed up in Cardiff. They took a 14-0 lead into the opening 10 minutes with tries from Caelan Doris and James Ryan, before James Lowe self-intercepted 22 to score a third late in the first quarter. Ireland led 27-3 at the break.
Some sort of response from Wales was inevitable. They responded with a deft try from Williams minutes into the second half but never looked likely to threaten Ireland’s lead. When Williams was in trouble, Ireland raised their game again to score a bonus points try through Josh van der Flier in the final 10 minutes.
They look royal atop the world rankings, but Farrell is bracing for France’s arrival. “I think everyone realizes what’s coming next week, but there’s one thing about an Irish crowd. When there is a big game and they know they have to support the team, they are the best in the world. There is no doubt about it.
The best crowd in the world cheering for the best team. The stage is set.