Johnny Sexton: I don’t think I’ll ever get over being left out of the Lions

‘I’ve had lots of setbacks in my career and now it’s up to me to bounce back this season’

Johnny Sexton is fully fit and has no concerns whatsoever over his head injury as Leinster begin their league campaign at the end of this month. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Johnny Sexton is fully fit and has no concerns whatsoever over his head injury as Leinster begin their league campaign at the end of this month. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Johnny Sexton will never get over being left out of the Lions but is determined to bounce back this year with Leinster and Ireland.

The Irish outhalf, who suffered a concussion injury at the end of last season was then overlooked by Warren Gatland despite flagging his fitness and availability to be on standby.

“I’ve had lots of setbacks in my career and now it’s up to me to bounce back this season. Not that I’m over it. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it but I’ve come to terms with it. I accepted it a long time ago that it wasn’t going to be,” said Sexton.

“It’s a long time ago now since I wasn’t picked, the emotions have obviously changed a little bit. When you don’t get picked it’s a massive disappointment. But, look, they went a certain way and I wasn’t a part of their plans. It was tough but that’s life. I’ve just got to try and bounce back now.”

Sexton is fully fit and has no concerns whatsoever over his head injury as Leinster begin their league campaign at the end of this month and Ireland face the USA, Japan, New Zealand and Argentina in the November series.

It is also a lengthy season with the reward for any team finishing in the top eight of the regular standings qualifying for the United Rugby Championship (URC) play-offs, which kick off with the quarter-finals on the weekend of June 4th. The semi-finals follow a week later before the first URC Grand Final is held on June 18th.

“It was a huge disappointment,” said Sexton speaking as a MACE ambassador. “The Lions was in the forefront of my thoughts for the last couple of years. But like I said, that’s life and now it’s a case of trying to attack this season. I’ll hopefully be ready to go and have a good start to this season and be ready to put myself forward for Irish selection.

“It’s a huge year with some big November fixtures, Six Nations and then a tour to New Zealand. All the Leinster stuff as well. It’s a big season ahead. But they’re all big seasons. You get energised by the start of a new season and this one is no different.”

It was made clear to Sexton and some of the more experienced members of the squad at the end of last season that Ireland would be looking at other players for the summer series of games against Japan and the USA.

“They left out a few older guys in the summer series and that was known very early on. After the Six Nations there was talk of, well if you don’t get picked for the Lions we probably won’t include you so that was clear, that was all part of my decision-making at the end of the season,” said Sexton.

“I suppose all the thinking was to give Harry (Byrne) and Ross (Byrne) as much opportunity to push for Irish selection. I trained hard, helped the team when I could and now I’m back and ready to go and looking forward to this season.”

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