Ireland v Wales, Six Nations
Sexton ready to right some wrongs
February 3, 2012
Jonathan Sexton lost the Ireland No.10 jersey to rival Ronan O'Gara during the recent Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Jonathan Sexton is determined to do all he can to retain the Ireland No.10 jersey after being handed the playmaking duties for their Six Nations opener against Wales in Dublin on Sunday.
Sexton entered last autumn's World Cup as first choice fly-half, only to see his wayward goalkicking surrender the jersey to rival Ronan O'Gara. It was a painful experience that continues to haunt a player who is viewed as a better all-round operator than O'Gara.
"I beat myself up a bit at the time. It's probably something that I've struggled with a little bit," he said. "But you learn a lot with setbacks. Obviously I place-kicked poorly in a couple of games.
"That can happen to any place-kicker but unfortunately it happened to me on the world stage in the two biggest games of my career. It still doesn't sit well with me that it happened then, something I'd been building up towards for a couple of years. It still hurts but I've tried to move on. That's life. You move on from it. I've a lot of good people around me."
Sexton insists he is growing accustomed to O'Gara replacing him from the bench. In the past when the 26-year-old has been coach Declan Kidney's preferred choice, he has found himself waiting for O'Gara's entrance. Only now, after 24 caps, is he beginning to adapt to the situation.
"I wish my place was guaranteed. Obviously with Ireland there's a little bit more looking over your shoulder than with Leinster because Ronan is on the bench," he said. "It's something you have to get used to, knowing somebody is ready to come on if things aren't going your way.
"It's probably something that I've struggled with a little bit. But you learn a lot with setbacks. Hopefully I'll not be as bogged down about it. I can play my own game and try to do the best for the team.
"I've come off after 60 minutes when I've been playing well for Ireland. I've just got to make the most of my time on the pitch. Sometimes you feel like you just want to go out and put it all in the first 50 minutes. But you have to think about the team."
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