For Johnny Sexton, getting back out on the pitch can’t come quickly enough as he and the rest of his international teammates look to get their disappointing World Cup campaign out of their system.
The onset of the first round of Interpros this weekend, in addition to the beginning of the Heineken Champions Cup a week later will prove to be a most welcome distraction.
At the launch of European club rugby’s premier competition on Wednesday in Cardiff, the Ireland out-half was inevitably quizzed on his country’s disappointing 2019 which culminated in yet another quarter-final exit.
The 34-year-old was able to offer up some insight into why Ireland failed to fire in 2019 as he believes that his side didn’t “improve enough” and failed to evolve throughout the calendar year.
“We didn’t improve enough,” Sexton told The Irish Independent. “We didn’t evolve as much but that is all in hindsight. We obviously tried to and we didn’t. It’s tough to take.
“We haven’t done a review process yet and we will. We will sit down and we will be as honest with each other about things, so we can learn going forward.”
The concerns surrounding Ireland’s form began with that loss to England at the Aviva Stadium in the opening round of the 2019 Six Nations.
Sexton reveals that the squad and management were aware that things were going awry and that they attempted to rectify it but of course, it proved futile as Ireland stumbled throughout the rest of the year.
“There were times throughout the year where the coaches challenged us to improve and we challenged the systems or whatever you want to call it. On both sides, we didn’t [ignore the problems]. That was through it and after it. You can have opinions on why but it [the year] is a failure.
“We didn’t do what we wanted in the Six Nations. We didn’t do what we wanted in the World Cup so there is no other way to look at it.”
Leinster face a tricky test away to Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway on Friday before their Champions Cup campaign gets underway with the visit of Benetton before they travel to Top 14 leaders Lyon a week later.