Sexton: I’m my own biggest critic

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton believes there was “plenty to learn” from their Guinness Six Nations defeat to England.

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton believes there was “plenty to learn” from their Guinness Six Nations defeat to England.

Tries from George Ford and Elliot Daly ensured England triumphed 24-12 at Twickenham, ending Ireland’s hopes of a Grand Slam and Triple Crown.

Sexton, who was appointed skipper at the beginning of the Championship, said he was disappointed by the manner of defeat in London.

Nonetheless, the fly-half said “a lot can get fixed” before they face France next.

“I’m my biggest critic,” the 34-year-old told Irish Rugby TV.

“So I was gutted for the last three or four days, absolutely gutted with my performance.

“As players, when you play bad you want to just go and play straight away. I was tempted to try and go play for Leinster.

“We have got to look at the positives as we have got time to develop some things together now.”

Following the postponement of their game against Italy, Ireland have an extra week to prepare for the challenge against France – who are seeking a first Grand Slam title in a decade.

The 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year said he was full of confidence heading into the England game but uncharacteristically missed two kicks at goal at Twickenham.

He said: “Sometimes you have one of those days where the bounce of the ball, you let it affect you, and the knock-on is a few errors.

“I’m happy with how I came out in the second half. Not a day I’ll remember fondly but it is what it is.

“I’ve had it throughout my career where you have one of those games every, it might be a season or it could be a couple of seasons or it might be a run of games but it is what it is.

“There’s a lot [to learn]. Just how one thing can have a knock-on effect when you have a plan and you don’t quite get it to where you want to go, what you do next.

“So, lots of things across the whole game, across the board really.”

On reflection, Sexton said the England loss was a result of their execution, rather than the preparation and hopes a more simple approach against Les Bleus could provide Ireland the answers.

“We had a great game plan to try and cope with that,” said Sexton. “A lot of it revolved around trying to get to the space early.

“We couldn’t get there, for one reason or another, and then we kept trying to get there and we kept making things worse.

“So yeah, that was the disappointing part, the space that we got to against Wales and Scotland at times – obviously not as much against Scotland – we couldn’t get there.

“Some of that was their good defence but we were well prepared for that type of line speed because we’ve played against it before.

“We just didn’t execute well enough and it has a knock-on effect for maybe a poor delivery, poor first-phase execution, and then you’re struggling a bit.

“It sounds simple, but sometimes the answers are simple.”