Ireland captain Johnny Sexton says he hopes to go out on “a high, not a whimper” after signing a contract extension through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Tuesday.
Sexton will be 38 by the time rugby’s showpiece tournament kicks off in France and there had been speculation over whether he would carry on till then.
“I wanted to keep the dream going,” Sexton said on Tuesday. “I do not want to go out on a whimper and hopefully I finish on a high at the World Cup.
“I am delighted to be able to say it has come to fruition [the contract] as I have been beating round the bush for six months. I was always nervous talking about the Rugby World Cup.
“I want to make the most of my last 18 months of my career and to do that is to work hard and get my body in the best shape possible.”
Meanwhile, Sexton has dismissed England coach Eddie Jones’ claims that the Irish are favourites for Saturday’s game.
“It is irrelevant,” the Ireland pivot said. “We have not won many times over there in the recent past. This game will be decided by who can put their best performance out there.
“We will prepare down to the finest detail such as the atmosphere that is going to hit us and their intensity. It will be a great test to see if we learned lessons from the French game [Ireland lost 30-24 in Paris] and if we can adapt in an away stadium.”
© Agence France-Presse