“I’ll keep playing for now.”
Johnny Sexton has played down comments he made earlier this week about potentially retiring before the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The Ireland captain hinted on Tuesday that he would not be around for the showpiece tournament in France, insisting that he was taking his career one season at a time.
“When we talk about World Cup cycles, I might not be a part of the full cycle but this group will definitely be better for this type of coaching and structures,” Sexton said via RTE.
💬 𝙁𝙤𝙘𝙪𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙩𝙖𝙨𝙠 𝙖𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙙! 👊🟢
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 24, 2021
“If you look at what I have said it has been other people who have thrown fuel on the fire. Isa [Nacewa] was telling people I could play until I am 40, 41.
“I have always been of the same position. I absolutely love what I do and I am very privileged to do it and I am still loving it. I’ll keep playing for now.”
However, Sexton has now rowed back on the retirement talk, telling the BBC that his comments surrounding his future were “nothing really”.
“It was just a throwaway comment in terms of talking about World Cup cycles and the journey that this coaching group are on with this group of players,” he said.
“All I said was that this World Cup cycle would stand to us in the way we’re trying to develop. Obviously, I don’t have a three-year contract and it’s season by season. So it was nothing really,” Sexton commented.
‘The coaches have done a fantastic job.’
Ireland have endured a disappointing start to the Six Nations, having lost their opening two fixtures for the first time in the championship’s 22 seasons.
While the Six Nations title is all but out of reach for Ireland in 2021, Sexton backed the current coaching staff and insisted that the team is heading in the right direction.
“The coaches have come in, they’ve done a fantastic job. There are lots of examples that we have gone through as a team and said that it wasn’t good enough for international standard.
“And, despite all of those things, we still came within a penalty away from winning the game. It’s very different to what it was before, but we will be better for this going forward, of that I am convinced,” Sexton said.
Ireland will look to get their first win of the championship as they travel to Rome this weekend, to take on an Italy side that have conceded 91 points in just two games so far.