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Johnny Sexton insists no animosity with Warren Gatland

Johnny Sexton

Johnny Sexton has insisted that he feels no animosity towards Warren Gatland over being left out of the British and Irish Lions squad in 2021.

Still a key player for Ireland, Sexton missed out on the Lions’ tour of South Africa despite his impressive performances in that year’s Six Nations, although he certainly hasn’t let that disappointment slow him down.

Gatland admitted recently that it was probably the wrong decision to leave Sexton out based on the Ireland veteran’s form since then, something which will have come as scant consolation to the 37-year-old.

Nonetheless, speaking at a press conference ahead of Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Wales, Sexton stressed that he harbours no hard feelings towards Gatland.

Johnny Sexton on Warren Gatland.

“That’s gone now, isn’t it? It’s something that you never get back, which is why it hurt so bad at the time,” Sexton explained.

“But people make their decisions, at the time they probably make them for what they think are the right reasons so you can’t hold that [against him]. I met him at at the [Six Nations] launch and there was no animosity or anything.

“We shook hands and said hello. I got on very well with him on the two previous tours, which is probably why it hurt so much. It is what it is, it’s over now. It’s a long time ago.”

Paying little heed to the favourites tag.

Ireland are expected to beat Wales in Cardiff this Saturday, something which Gatland has noted himself, although Sexton certainly isn’t predicting a comfortable win.

“Maybe that’s what he’s saying but he certainly hasn’t picked a team that would suggest it’s a free hit because he’s picked such an experienced team,” Sexton said.

“He’s brought back some older guys that would suggest he’s targeting this game. If he was looking at a free hit he’d pick all the young lads, give it a lash and see if they can make it through to the World Cup.

“We’re definitely not preparing like that, we’re preparing for a full on test match in the Principality Stadium.”

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