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‘I might not be part of the full cycle’ – Johnny Sexton hints at Ireland retirement before 2023 World Cup

Johnny Sexton retirement

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Sexton is set to return to the Ireland team for Saturday’s Six Nations game with Italy.

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has admitted he may bring the curtain down on his international career before the 2023 World Cup while revealing he is close to signing a new IRFU contract.

Sexton is currently negotiating a 12-month extension to his current deal that would take him through to the summer of 2022.

The Leinster fly-half has declared himself fit to face Italy on Saturday after missing Ireland’s Six Nations defeat by France last time out with a head injury.

‘I might not be a part of the full cycle.’

And while Stuart Lancaster has previously talked up Sexton’s ability to play until he is 40, the 35-year-old has hinted that he may not be a part of the Ireland set-up by the time the World Cup in France rolls around.

“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.

“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.

Johnny Sexton retirement

“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 will keep playing for now.

“I have spoken of my admiration for athletes who have stayed at the top of their game for a long time but [we need to be] careful about what I said and what other people said, that can get lost a bit.

“At the moment, I am contracted for this season and nearly contracted for next season. We’ll see what happens.”

But while Sexton is edging towards the end of his playing career, the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year has dismissed the idea of him pursuing a career in either punditry or coaching once he hangs up his boots.

“None of the above,” he said.

“I have a fair idea what I will be doing.

“You never tell anyone your plans because they can change, can’t they? But, no, I’ve got some things that I will work towards over the next year or two years, whatever, I don’t know.

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“I will work towards getting into the real world and starting another life. There are parts of this game that are amazing and that you would love to be a part of it forever.

“Then there are some parts that you just can’t wait to get a million miles away from it.

“I am loving it at the moment, I am loving every moment of playing and I just want to focus on this campaign and, if I stay on next year, focus on that and try and make the most of whatever is left.”

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