Wednesday’s video review session would have been tough viewing for the Ireland squad as they reflect on their disappointing showing against England at Twickenham on Sunday.
There were very few positives, perhaps an improved showing in the second half and some impact from the bench, but overall, Ireland were dismantled by a superior England side for the third time in a row which will be incredibly frustrating for those involved.
Few players in the starting XV would have been happy with their individual performances and that certainly applies to Johnny Sexton. The Ireland captain failed to influence his team while he also struggled with the tee and suffered a poor handling error which led to a try from George Ford.
Criticism has come Sexton’s way numerous times throughout his career and he has always bounced back. Speaking on Friday after Ireland’s open training session with the Ireland U20s, Sexton admits that he is his own harshest critic and that he was “gutted” with his performance.
“No, I’m my biggest critic,” Sexton said.
“So I was gutted for the last three or four days, absolutely gutted with my performance. I was full of confidence going into the game and sometimes you have one of those days where the bounce of the ball, you let it affect you, and the knock-on is a few errors.
“I’m happy with how I came out in the second half. Not a day I’ll remember fondly but it is what it is. I’ve had it throughout my career where you have one of those games every, it might be a season or it could be a couple of seasons or it might be a run of games but it is what it is.
“Once you prepare well and have the best intentions to perform and do everything you can to perform. Most of the time it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. It is what it is and I’m well used to the criticism, I’ve had it for my whole career. One week you’re good and one week you’re bad. So keep it coming.”
Ireland’s Six Nations preparations have hit a bit of a snag with the news that their match with Italy has been postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in northern Italy. Sexton admits that there’s a little bit of frustration because the players want to be back out on the pitch as soon as possible to right the wrongs of the Twickenham performance.
“Yeah, the exact same as Andy. As players, when you play bad you want to just go and play straight away. I was tempted to try and go play for Leinster tonight. There’s nothing worse than a long wait now, but that’s what it is.
“We’ve just got to prepare. We trained hard today and we’ve got another big week next week. We can get a lot fixed over a couple of weeks, so we’ve got to look at the positives that we’ve got time to develop some things together now.”