Johnny Sexton has as challenged the younger out-halves in the Ireland squad to step up to the mark over the coming weeks, as the veteran dismissed concerns about lack of form from those bidding to overtake him.
The Ireland captain believes Joey Carbery (26) and Harry Byrne (22) are further along in terms of their development than Sexton was at their age, while the 36-year-old also highlighted Ciarán Frawley’s (23) quality as a 10.
Sexton declared himself fit following a recent hip injury, and given that he is due to train with Ireland today, the Leinster man is set to be available for the Japan Test next week.
“If there’s young guys coming behind you who are doing great stuff, you can still only control yourself, and that’s been my focus, especially in my thirties, to get the best version of myself out there,” Sexton said.
“I haven’t always done it but I have tried to. But there is some great talent coming through. The two guys, or three guys if you include Frawls as a 10 – they have got all the things they need to be a top-quality international.
“It’s up to them to display the right attitude to go and do it. It’s a bumpy road at 10. I didn’t get my first cap until 24. #
“These guys are much further along the road than I was at that age. I was stuck behind Felipe (Contepomi) at Leinster and I felt like my career was going nowhere.
“You just have to be ready when the day comes and those guys have got what it takes. They just have to channel it, work hard and be ready to bounce back from adversity as well.”