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Sexton is blown away by attitude of those who did not make the cut

Johnny Sexton
Johnny Sexton

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

In professional sport, you can only show so much emotion. Johnny Sexton empathises with the team-mates he and Ireland will leave behind when they go to Japan, but already the focus has shifted towards Wales on Saturday.

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Joe Schmidt and Rory Best's final home game is being viewed as a launch pad for this Ireland team's World Cup campaign and, after the drama of Monday's squad announcement, the focus has quickly shifted. The coach confirmed that Sexton will start on Saturday, while Cian Healy, Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls are in line to feature.

After suffering a thumb injury in the early stages of Ireland's pre-season and a leg issue during the warm-weather camp in Portugal, Sexton is raring to get going. But he also took time at yesterday's press conference to pay tribute to the players for whom the World Cup dream died - at least for now.

"I'm looking forward to it, it's been a good pre-season. It was frustrating obviously, picking up the knock at a bad time. I'm looking forward to it now," he said.

"I played with Dev (Toner) all the way through. You're obviously looking out for yourself first of all in selection and then you are thinking about those closest to you. I feel for Dev, as I do for Kieran Marmion, who has put in an unbelievable amount of work.

"The list goes on: Jordi (Murphy), Will Addison, guys that came so close that are still in with us. It shows the mark of those guys that they are willing to come in after such disappointment to train as they have over the last couple of days, they know that they could be needed."

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