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Sexton denies Ireland have gone backwards under Andy Farrell

Jonathan Sexton believes progress is being made under Ireland head coach Andy Farrell.  There's ...

Jonathan Sexton believes progress is being made under Ireland head coach Andy Farrell. 

There's been strong criticism of Ireland's last two outings in the Autumn Nations Cup, particularly Sunday's 23-10 win over Georgia.

Ireland were restricted to just 3-points in the second half by a side ranked twelfth in the world.

Speaking on OTB AM earlier this week, former Ireland back-row Alan Quinlan described the Georgia performance as "dire" and questioned the players' mentality.

But according to the captain, have the team actually regressed under Farrell's stewardship? "No. Well if you look at our results, we've lost twice to England away and we've lost to France away.

"We've won the rest of our games.

"So if you're talking about results - which is what test match rugby is about - if we can win on Saturday.

"There's been plenty of Irish teams over the years that have lost in Twickenham and lost in France. Were they games we could have won? Maybe not the first England game, but the second one and the French one we definitely feel there are things that got away from us.

"England were in a World Cup final, they're probably one of the better teams in the world at the moment and we need to get up to that level.

"So have we gone backwards? Not when you compare it to 2019.

"If you go and compare it to 2018 - obviously. But we went backwards in 2019, the same team went backwards.

"We're just saying what we feel. I know you guys [the media] don't agree.

"But we feel like we're progressing, and we need to show it. And that's where the gap in opinion is really, is that we're doing some big learnings, some great things in training, some bits in the games - you're talking about playing well against Wales at home.

"But again, in bits and pieces. We need to put out the 80-minute performance with the finishing touches.

"We feel, and we can show you some video clips if you want of us creating lots of opportunities that we're just not finishing.

"That's the big learning for us. When there's opportunities at test level, you've got to take them. And when they're as clear-cut as the ones that we're creating, we need to take them."

There was something going on

Sexton is fit again, having missed Ireland's last two outings through injury.

He's almost certain to start in the 3rd place playoff with Scotland on Saturday afternoon.

Sexton will return to full training on Wednesday, with a view to regaining the captaincy at the Aviva Stadium.

"It was a weird one", the 35-year old said of the injury, "If you think about how many kicks I've taken in my career, and I strained my hamstring for the second time and the first time was 5-6 weeks ago.

"So there was something going on there that is not normal, and we have hopefully figured it out and hopefully I'll be better for it going forward.

"I returned to kicking the back end of last week, and things have been going OK."

Finer details

Sexton admitted to being a frustrated supporter over the past couple of weeks, and felt the second half against Georgia wasn't good enough.

The experienced out-half does not feel Ireland's lack of cutting edge is down to the change in coaching teams over the past 18-months.

"That's down to us", he repeated, saying the side had been "running themselves into brick walls".

Sexton says they have spoken about the "finer detail" elements that made them so successful under Joe Schmidt, as they got lost in the "big picture stuff" of a change in philosophy.

He hopes the Scots will see them put that all together on Saturday.

Kieran Donaghy’s semi-final build-up, CL with David Meyler, Ireland v Germany

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Andy Farrell Autumn Nations Cup England Georgia Ireland Johnny Sexton Jonathan Sexton Scotland Sexton