Sean McMahon reporting from the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell praised his captain Johnny Sexton for how the out-half performed against Scotland in light of the severe lack of preparation he had in the build-up to the Six Nations opener.
Sexton has been out with a knee injury since early December but he returned to fitness in time to score all of Ireland’s 19 points against Scotland as they won out on a final scoreline of 19-12.
When asked about his own performance in the post-match press conference, Sexton admitted he was a bit rusty due to his lack of time on the training ground.
“I felt good,” Sexton said.
“Obviously rusty. It’s tough when you’re in a brace for three weeks, you can’t do anything. Then for three weeks, I worked my socks off trying to get fit for Portugal.
“I didn’t train that well at the end of last week, start of his week.”
When Sexton finished speaking about the overall team performance, Farrell interjected before another question could be asked as he wanted to make clear his admiration for his captain in light of the lack of preparation he had.
“He hadn’t done any team training whatsoever, any rugby training whatsoever until we touched down in Portugal,” Farrell said.
“For him not to touch a ball, and not to fight in anger until Thursday of this week, that says it all about the man.
“To have the pressure of doing something (captaining Ireland) that he has passionately wanted to do and all the new bits that come around that. And then deal with coming back from such an injury an leading the side like that. Hat’s off to Johnny, that’s a magnificent effort.”
Both Farrell and Sexton will be quite content on getting a win under the belt as building momentum is so crucial in the Six Nations.
Behind the scenes, they will know that huge improvement will be needed if they are to get a positive result against Wales next weekend.