Johnny Sexton has been typically forthright in speaking about Ireland’s Six Nations campaign so far, saying his side “haven’t been good enough yet”.
Ireland’s opening round defeat to England was followed by wins against Scotland and Italy, but Sexton and Co have so far failed to reach the performance levels of 2018.
Speaking to Ireland AM on Virgin Media One – in an interview to air on Wednesday – Sexton admitted that Ireland have only shown “glimpses” of their real quality.
“I could come out with three or four excuses,” Sexton stated when asked about Ireland’s form.
“We just have to say that we haven’t been good enough yet.
“We’ve shown glimpse in games of how good we can be and then we’ve just…we haven’t.
“A good example would be Wales. Poor in the first two [Six Nations] games and then exploded last week against England.
“The difference, like I said, between playing good and having a bad game are so small.
“We said it when we were winning and you guys think we’re just throwing out the punchlines…
“They’re genuinely true and something we believe in. And we had a little bit of luck last year along the way to achieve a Grand Slam.
“We probably didn’t get the bounce of those balls against England. Now, we’re trying to find that performance that we need to sort of revive us again and get us going.”
Speaking about the hard-fought win over Italy last weekend, Sexton said he was “unbelievably frustrated” coming off the pitch.
“How can you not be when you’re doing as good a preparation as you did last year, you’re training as well as you did last year.
“You’re doing everything right and things just aren’t clicking.
“No one cares more than us. That’s the bottom line. I’m sorry if I let my frustrations boil over at times but that’s part of me and I care a lot about the team and want it to do well so…
“You don’t always get it right but that’s part of the job. When you care about it you can let things boil over.”
Sexton was also quick to reject the idea that Joe Schmidt’s departure after the World Cup later this year was a cause of the downturn in form.
“It’s not a distraction,” the Leinster skipper said.
“We’ll talk about Joe for years to come when he’s finished.
“But for the moment it’s just been business as usual. Little things here and there just haven’t gone our way and we’re working incredibly hard to put it right.”
Watch the full interview on Ireland AM tomorrow morning at 7.40am on Virgin Media One.