Six Nations: Ireland moves into the post-Sexton era

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Of course, rugby is a sport where the collective is more important than the individual. Sexton retired after 118 appearances since 2009, leaving a big gap as the three potential candidates to take over the number 10 jersey have only 12 appearances between them.

Despite this (forced) wind of freshness, Andy Farrell wants to continue moving forward, reaching for the top. Over two-thirds of his team (11 out of 15 starters) were present during the defeat against New Zealand.

Continuity – except at the key fly-half position – is therefore essential according to the English coach, and father of Owen Farrell. *We want to continue to grow, we want to continue to evolve our game, and you don’t do that by starting from scratch.

The battle to earn a place in this team is crucial, and it must remain so, so this is the beginning of a new Six Nations. * He also asserts: *I don’t subscribe to the idea of a four-year cycle that starts all over again when a World Cup is over.

* Before their abrupt exit (once again) in the World Cup quarter-finals, Ireland had an incredible streak of 17 consecutive victories. A form of continuity as the Munster player had already been named captain in the past.

*I think I have been 10 times,* he recalls. *But to be so for a campaign in the Tournament is very special and probably the greatest honor of my career so far.

I didn’t expect it, to be honest. * *There are a few other candidates (for the captaincy) because we have excellent leadership within the group, and it will continue because Peter will be there to support it.

It’s very important, especially on match days, to have this type of person in the group, and Peter is definitely one of them. * According to him, O’Mahony should *simply be himself and help others to grow.

* With a notable absence, center Garry Ringrose, injured, is replaced by Robbie Henshaw who will pair with Bundee Aki, who seems to have struggled to digest the last World Cup.

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