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Sexton hoping to race to success

Wed, 31 Jul 2013 10:02
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British and Irish Lion flyhalf Jonathan Sexton has set his sights high after joining big spending Racing Metro in the French Top 14.

Speaking at his official unveiling to the press, after just two days of training with his new teammates, the 28-year-old Irishman said he was hoping to be part of a new era of success at the famous old Parisian club.

And just over two weeks after his leading role in guiding the Lions to Tour victory in Australia, Sexton is still riding on a wave of emotion.

"I'm very excited, it's been a crazy few weeks but I'm really happy to be here. The first two days have exceeded all my expectations, I've really enjoyed it and it's been tough work," he said.

"I'll be playing games earlier than I normally would but that's good because sometimes when you have a long break pre-season, you can lose your rhythm. I just feel like I'm continuing on the same season after the Lions, so that's a good thing.

"It's pretty clear to see the facilities here, with the new coaches coming in and new players, I just think it's very exciting as far as a new project and very exciting to go to a team that hasn't had success in a long time.

"It would be really special [to win] and that's all I'm thinking about at the moment, getting off to a good start with my new team and being successful with them, and winning trophies hopefully."

Sexton has been joined at Racing by fellow Lions Dan Lydiate and Jamie Roberts but other new faces include coaching duo Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit.

Sexton knows he is going to have to win over the coaches before he can expect to start regularly, particularly with the likes of Jonathan Wisniewski and Argentinian star Juan Martin Hernandez potentially providing competition for the No.10 jersey.

But at least the Irishman is looking forward to getting more game time in the highly competitive Top 14 league and hoping not to be rested, as he often was at Leinster when the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) decided he should be kept in cotton wool ahead of an international match.

"There are only four more games in the Top 14 than in the Rabo [Pro12 competition]. We've got a lot of good players here, a lot of good tens; I'll play as often as I'm asked or as often as I'm picked and I'll be ready to do that.

"At times when I was rested in the IRFU programme, I was frustrated because I was fit and ready to go. It's better to rest when you've got a small injury or something but I love to play games, that's why I'm a rugby player; I'm sure at times it will be difficult but I'm sure the coaches will look after us too."

Labit said Sexton will have to earn his place in the Racing starting line-up but that he would be under no pressure to do so too soon, particularly given his limited time off following the Lions tour.

"It's all to play for, even though we know them all (the fly-halves) and his qualities are the reason we brought him here, now its about how the players perform and for them to perform they have to feel good mentally and physically," said Labit.

"Jonny has played a lot these last few weeks, he was a starter in Australia in all three tests so we'll give him the time to integrate in his new team with new teammates and a new system.

"He's integrating by speaking French, we'll speak and discuss things and when he feels good, he'll come into the team."

AFP

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