Ireland skipper Sexton insists on performance rather than points

·2-min read
Six Nations Championship - Ireland v Italy
Six Nations Championship - Ireland v Italy

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland must make performing well against France their primary focus for Saturday’s decisive Six Nations clash and forget about the permutations that could see them crowned champions, captain Johnny Sexton said on Tuesday.

A bonus point win over France in Paris would secure the title for the Irish, but the French are also in the running while England look best placed as they go to Rome to take on bottom-placed Italy.

Ireland have 14 points from four games after a five-point haul over Italy in Dublin last Saturday where their 50-17 victory ensured a potentially vital extra point.

England and France are a further point back but both with high hopes of taking the title.

“We'll have to wait and see, but all we can control at the moment is our performance and so what we’re trying to emphasise to everyone in the squad is that we need to get our performance right, no matter what,” he told a news conference.

“If it’s just a win, or a bonus point, we’re still going to have to play well no matter what, so we’re focusing on that aspect. We know that if we can perform well, we give ourselves chances and then it’s up to us to be clinical and take those chances.”

Ireland won a Grand Slam two years ago, but Sexton said that now felt like history.

“A lot has happened since, it does feel like a long time ago but it’s great to be back in the situation where we are competing for a trophy and we know that, in many ways, it’s in our own hands.

“It’s why you play; you train hard for these big days and now we need to make sure we concentrate on our performance. If we can get that right, it gives us a chance,” he added.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Hugh Lawson)