Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Sexton desperate to join Lions elite

Jonathan Sexton starts at fly-half for the Lions against Australia on Saturday

Jonathan Sexton makes no secret of his dream to join the most exclusive club in British and Irish Lions history.

Only four times in more than 50 years - 1971, 1974, 1989 and 1997 - have Lions squads returned home triumphant as Test series winners. But Australia 2013 will be added to that illustrious list if Sexton and company can follow up last weekend's first Test victory in Brisbane with another success on Saturday to clinch the series.

"As a player, you want to be remembered when you hang up the boots and be talked about in years to come," Ireland fly-half Sexton said. "This is our chance on a Lions scale. If we win a Test series we will be forever remembered for it."

He added: "That brings with it responsibility and a lot of nerves, but when we get out there it will be like any other game, albeit with bigger rewards if we do the business.

"It's a chance to put yourself into the history books in many ways. A lot of people have done it at club level, have done it at Grand Slam level, but none of us here have done it with the British and Irish Lions.

"We talk about little things like that early in the week to put it in the mind, but it will very much be down to our performance on the pitch and trying to produce that. Talking about making history is not going to win you the game. It's about executing the moves, the game plan, being good in defence and stopping their moves."

Sexton will not have to look very far if he requires additional motivation on Saturday. Alongside him in the Lions back division will be his Ireland colleague Brian O'Driscoll, while another international team-mate - Paul O'Connell - will be watching from the sidelines after suffering a broken arm in Brisbane.

Between them, O'Driscoll and O'Connell have won 210 caps and been on seven Lions tours, but Test series success has so far eluded them both.

"Brian was here 12 years ago as a 21-year-old, and the opportunity slipped by. He thought he would get plenty more opportunities, and 12 years later this is his next opportunity," Sexton added.

"It's not something that comes along too often and is something all the lads want to grasp while they can. We want to do it for guys like Brian and Paul. Paul is obviously injured, but if we win he can say he was part of the Test-winning squad at least."

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