British & Irish Lions
Sexton wanted Wilkinson call-up
ESPN Staff
May 14, 2013
Jonathan Sexton shows off his skills in training, Carlton House, Kildare, Ireland, February 21, 2012
Jonny Sexton is the pre-tour favourite to get the British & Irish Lions No.10 shirt © PA Photos

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton has conceded he would have loved the chance to learn from Jonny Wilkinson had the Toulon No.10 got the nod for the British & Irish Lions this summer.

Wilkinson was left out of the original 37-man squad with Warren Gatland opting to pick two standout fly-halves - Sexton and England's Owen Farrell. It now seems a straight shoot-out for the Lions' fly-half Test berth between the two but there is still a chance Wilkinson will get the nod should any of the 37 players succumb to injury.

And despite Wilkinson being a threat to Sexton's place in the side had he got the call-up, the Irish No.10 admitted he was keen to work alongside the hugely experienced fly-half.

"I would have liked for him to be picked so that I could pick his brain," Sexton said of Wilkinson. "I would loved to have learnt from him. He's a bit of a legend. I looked up to him when I was 16 and he was winning the World Cup with England. But I'm looking forward to working with Owen. He's a great player too and I'm sure we'll have a great relationship."

Sexton will move to French Top 14 side Racing Metro following the Lions tour, after just under a decade turning out for his boyhood club. He may sneak in a few French lessons during his time away on tour and is feeling in good shape after an injury lay-off earlier this season gave him time to recuperate.

"Hopefully I've used up all of my injuries for the year over the past few months," he said. "It feels strange to be so fresh at this time of the year - I feel I'm just starting after the fact I've had two months off and I have played four games since [returning from injury] means I feel great.

"I'm starting to get a bit of match fitness and sharpness back, so hopefully I will peak at the right time for the two finals with Leinster and then the tour."

With Sexton's Leinster and Ireland team-mate Brian O'Driscoll missing the first Lions' squad meeting in London due to a slight back injury, the idea of not making the tour will be picking away at the players until the first Test in Brisbane on June 22. But although Sexton admits the threat of injury remains constant, it is not something that is playing on his mind during the important fixtures coming up.

"Since the squad has been picked, at the back of the mind you're praying that it doesn't happen," he said. "But once you get out on the pitch your competitiveness comes through and it is the last thing you think about.

"It is about winning and there are two finals with Leinster, it isn't like they are friendlies. Two competitive games, high pressure, they are the sorts of preparation you want."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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