Jonny Sexton ‘getting back towards best’

Jonny Sexton reckons he is getting back to his best form just in time for the start of Ireland’s Six Nations title defence.

The Leinster fly-half has endured an up-and-down campaign since returning to the province after his spell in France with Racing 92. Sexton, 30, admits it took him time to get over the disappointment of Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Argentina, particularly as he could only helplessly watch from the sidelines after suffering a groin strain in the win over France.

His performances in the wake of the tournament came in for criticism, particularly an off-colour showing in Leinster’s Champions Cup defeat to holders Toulon last month.

Sexton had to work through those difficulties, but believes he is starting to motor. He turned in a man-of-the-match performance in Leinster’s 22-9 Pro12 win over the Ospreys, in which he got the better of Wales fly-half Dan Biggar four weeks out from their meeting in the opening Six Nations fixture at the Aviva Stadium.

“I think I am getting back towards my best,” said Sexton after kicking seven points and setting up Dave Kearney’s first try with a pinpoint cross-kick.

“The World Cup was the biggest disappointment of my career. I felt like I was ready to go on the biggest stage, I was playing well and then I got a niggly injury at a bad time. It took me a few weeks to get over it physically and mentally. It is hard to go from those high-emotion games where you are playing in front of 80,000 crazy Irish supporters and then, even when you go to a big tournament like the Champions Cup, it is tough.

“I had a couple of disappointing performances that I was unhappy with, but I felt I turned the corner after the away game against Toulon.”

But Sexton admits it was not an easy time for him, and relied on his allies at Leinster to help get him back on track.

“I made a few errors against Toulon but it is important at those times to listen to the people close to you,” he said.

“Some of those errors were down to me, but others were not down to me. There were fine margins for some of those things. I kicked a restart 9.5m, they played it, the ref gave a scrum, and they scored. Sometimes when it rains, it pours I guess, I put a couple of kicks dead and all of a sudden you are having a bad game.

“But I stayed confident in myself, I knew I was not too far away from getting some form back. I felt I played well during the games against Ulster and Connacht, it is on an upward curve and hopefully I can keep it going now.”

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