Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Johnny Sexton: Ireland must keep evolving to avoid peaking early for World Cup

Johnny Sexton wants to keep Ireland moving in the right direction (Brian Lawless/PA)
Johnny Sexton wants to keep Ireland moving in the right direction (Brian Lawless/PA)

Captain Johnny Sexton says Ireland must keep evolving in order to avoid repeating the mistake of peaking too soon for a World Cup.

The Irish travelled to the 2019 tournament in Japan with high expectations following a Six Nations Grand Slam and a statement victory over New Zealand the previous year but suffered a familiar quarter-final exit.

With the 2023 World Cup on the horizon, Andy Farrell’s in-form side are poised to test their current credentials during a three-match series against the All Blacks.

Ireland and Johnny Sexton were knocked out of the 2019 World Cup by New Zealand
Ireland and Johnny Sexton were knocked out of the 2019 World Cup by New Zealand (Adam Davy/PA)

Fly-half Sexton, who will retire after next year’s competition in France, is striving to maintain the upward trajectory having helped silence the doubters during an unconvincing start to Farrell’s reign as head coach.

“We were written off left, right and centre and we’ve come back and we’ve showed some great stuff,” he told Sky Sports ahead of Saturday’s first Test in Auckland.

“We’ve had some great results to go with it because we were always saying, ‘it’s coming, it’s coming’ and I think people were looking at us going, ‘is it really?’.

“And now we’ve got to keep it going.

“We’ve got to keep improving because that’s the mistake we made in the last cycle for the World Cup; we probably peaked in 2018 and we didn’t continue to evolve and that’s what we’re keen to not let happen.”

Ireland have won 12 of their last 13 Tests, including defeating New Zealand 29-20 in Dublin last autumn to partially avenge World Cup elimination at their hands in Tokyo.

Sexton, who turns 37 in less than a fortnight, will lead his country at Eden Park this weekend, with further meetings with Ian Foster’s All Blacks to come in Dunedin and Wellington.

Ireland beat New Zealand in Dublin in November
Ireland beat New Zealand in Dublin in November (Niall Carson/PA)

He believes the tour is the ideal opportunity to increase squad depth, with five uncapped players among the initial 40-man travelling party.

“We’ve put some fresh faces on this tour that we need to get up to speed, that we need to create that really competitive environment for that next World Cup,” he said.

“We need a lot of guys to be ready and that’s what the point of this tour is, to test us and to see how deep we can go in our squad.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]