Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has denied suggestions that the team has regressed since Andy Farrell took over as head coach following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Sexton is due to return from a hamstring injury this weekend against Scotland, after sitting out Ireland’s last two matches against England and Georgia.
Neither of those performances were promising showings from the Irish as they were well-beaten in London before grinding out an unconvincing 13-point win against the Georgians.
Latest news from @IrishRugby camp @BillyBurns10 ruled out of @Scotlandteam fixture.
Full squad update here⬇️https://t.co/kD8mV97JB4#shouldertoshoulder #teamofus #AutumnNationsCup
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However, the Leinster captain is confident that Ireland are heading in the right direction, playing down their recent losses to England and France.
“If you look at our results, we’ve lost twice to England away and to France away. We won the rest of our games.
“Plenty of Irish teams over the years have lost in Twickenham and Paris. England were in a World Cup final, they’re one of the better teams in the world at the minute and we need to get up to that level.
“Have we gone backwards? Not when you compare it to 2019. If you go and compare it to 2018, then obviously. We went backwards in 2019, the same team went backwards,” Sexton commented.
‘You can disagree, but that’s where we are’
The team has come under fire from pundits and fans recently for some under par performances in the autumn campaign, but Sexton is confident that Ireland are close to hitting their stride.
“I know you guys don’t agree, but we feel like we’re progressing and we need to show it and that’s where the gap in opinion is, really.
“We’re getting some big learnings and doing some great things in training, some bits in games where we’re talking about playing well against Wales at home.
“We need to put out the 80 minute performance with the finishing touches because we feel – and we can show you some video clips if you want of us creating lots of opportunities that we’re not finishing.
“That’s the big learning for us, when there’s opportunities at Test level you’ve got to take them, and when they’re as clear cut as the ones we are creating, we have to take them.
“That’s what we feel, you can disagree if you want but that’s where we are,” Sexton said.
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