Johnny Sexton says the devastation of Ireland’s 25-7 Six Nations loss to Wales in Cardiff will ‘live with him forever’ as he prepares for back-to-back World Cup warm-up games with the 2019 Grand Slam champions this summer.
The Lions No.10 was part of an Irish team put to the sword in ruthless fashion at the Principality Stadium back in March as Warren Gatland’s side completed a third Six Nations clean sweep on his watch.
Ireland were way off the form that took them to a second epic victory over the All Blacks in the 2018 autumn internationals and within touching distance of the world No.1 slot.
Defeats to England and Wales in the Six Nations leaves Joe Schmidt’s side with plenty to ponder heading to the World Cup in Japan… a fact recognised by their talisman Sexton.
And Sexton was also on the losing side when Leinster were beaten by Saracens in the final of the Champions Cup at Newcastle’s St James’ Park last month.
The 83-times capped playmaker told the Irish Examiner: “We were really devastated by the Wales game and European Cup final and they will go with us for the rest of the season and our careers.
“We’ve a game against Italy in eight weeks, then away to England and then two more friendlies against Wales so it’ll be a big summer before we start the World Cup.
“The Wales game was like a cup final and then there was the European Cup final against Saracens.
“Those losses will live with you forever, so to put a small high point on the end of it, it does change your form for the summer holidays. But it really doesn’t gloss over the losses.
“The World Cup is unfinished business for everyone that’s going. We feel we maybe let it slip at the last World Cup and there’s been some regrets from some of the other ones I was at too.”
Sexton played the final 25 minutes of Ireland’s 2011 World Cup quarter-final loss to Wales at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington… a defeat Emerald Isle legend Brian O’Driscoll pinpointed as his biggest career regret.
And Sexton added: “In 2011 knowing that if we won that — and we’d beaten Wales a few times – that we could have had France in the semi-final.
“So, there’s always those regrets. That’s why we’ll be working extremely hard over the summer, to make sure we try and close those small margins in our favour and make sure we come away having done something special.”
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