Johnny Sexton has reiterated his desire to be selected for a third British and Irish Lions tour. The Ireland out-half was the latest guest on Dan Carter’s Kickin’ It interview series on Instagram, and told the All Blacks legend that he is hoping the current break in the rugby calendar will stand to him down the line.
Sexton, who turns 35 next month, has often spoken of his desire to continue playing for years to come, and admitted that next year’s Lions tour remains an ambition of his.
In a wide-ranging interview, Sexton and Carter also discussed the rivalry between Ireland and the All Blacks, how Ireland’s central contract system has produced significant results at Test level, and broke down some of the highlights of Sexton’s Test career to date.
And when asked about next year’s Lions tour, Sexton said he is keen to keep himself in the mix for selection.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t something I haven’t thought a hell of a lot about,” Sexton said.
“It’s the pinnacle of any northern hemisphere players career, and to do it three times would be incredibly special, but all I can control really is getting myself in the best shape I can over the next three or four months, or however long it is before we come back, and try and use this time positively.
“It’s almost like a sabbatical for me. I’m not as lucky as Dan (Carter), I don’t get to go down to Perpignan for millions of Euro on my sabbatical. I get to stay at home with my three kids and mind them all day every day, that’s my sabbatical.
“I’ve got to look at it positively and say that hopefully this time will get my body in the best shape its been in for a few years and hit the ground running starting next year and see what happens.
“But it would be a dream to do it again. But a lot needs to happen for that to happen. I need to play well for Leinster, I need to play well for Ireland, and then hopefully put my name on the shop window for that tour.”
Three time World Player of the Year Carter said he thinks the extended break will be hugely beneficial for players.
“Using this time off, it’s something you don’t get as a professional rugby player,” Carter said.
“Having two or three months, maybe it’s going to be much longer, of not having that constant grind, that contact. So it is like a mini-sabbatical.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 1, 2020
“I was very fortunate to have a couple through my career, but if it’s used wisely the young players that have been playing heavily for the past four or five seasons, it’s perfect timing.
“Then you look at the other side of the spectrum with more experienced players like yourself (Sexton), you don’t get many opportunities like this.
“So if it’s used wisely and you keep training, and as long as your motivation upstairs is still there, I can’t see why you can’t play longer than potentially you thought you might, with having a break like this.
“Obviously there is some pretty exciting rugby around the corner over the next couple of years, so I told Maro (Itoje, last week’s guest) that I expect him to still be playing when he’s 38 years old, like myself, and with you having a break like this then you can probably push through to the 40s. So I’m looking forward to seeing that.”
What a year it's been for Sarries. https://t.co/Yv3e6DoJ7e
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 1, 2020
Sexton explained that he believes the way he plays the game could stand to him in terms of his longevity.
“I don’t rely on my pace too much, so that’s not been a factor. But you know all the bits of my game, I think that I can do no matter if I was 30 or 35, 36, 37. But a lot needs to happen.
“Like, I want to stay in Ireland. I think the day that someone says to me ‘Look, we have nothing for you here,’ with Leinster or Ireland, I think that’s the time where I’m being told to hang up the boots.
“I’ve done my two years in Paris, I loved it. I hated it at times, but I loved it on the majority, and I think I’d love to just finish my career in Dublin and in Ireland, whenever that would be.
“I’ll go kicking and screaming, but I want to go out in the right way.”
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