Johnny Sexton says camaraderie and work ethic key to stunning Ireland success

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Johnny Sexton believes the togetherness fostered by head coach Andy Farrell is Ireland’s greatest strength following another landmark result.

The world’s top-ranked team took a significant step towards the Guinness Six Nations title with Saturday’s thrilling 32-19 success over reigning Grand Slam champions France in Dublin.

Ireland have now beaten each of rugby’s leading countries during Farrell’s tenure and registered a record 13 consecutive Test victories on home soil.

Captain Sexton feels a strong spirit is the Irish camp’s prime asset and credits the blend of work ethic and camaraderie for keeping him “hungry”.

“It’s the biggest part of our success and that comes from the environment that the staff put together for us, led by Andy,” the 37-year-old said of the tight-knit bond in the group.

“It’s just an enjoyable place to come in and work and we get the balance right between enjoying each other’s company and then switch on and work and work hard.

“It’s not all happy-go-lucky stuff, it’s work hard and we enjoy each other’s company.

Andy Farrell's Ireland are in fine form
Andy Farrell’s Ireland are in fine form (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It keeps the older lads going, keeps us hungry and loving it so it’s a pleasure to be involved with.”

Tries from Hugo Keenan, James Lowe, Andrew Porter and Garry Ringrose helped earn Ireland a first victory in four outings against France to halt their opponents’ winning run at 14 matches.

Farrell’s men have also defeated England, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, world champions South Africa and Australia during the past 12 months.

Fly-half Sexton contributed seven points with his boot against Les Bleus, while his replacement Ross Byrne added a further five.

Ireland travel to Italy in a fortnight’s time before a trip to fellow title-chasers Scotland in round four is followed by England’s visit to the Aviva Stadium on the final weekend.

Farrell is determined to “keep pushing the standards”.

“It’s just about us improving us a group, a realisation of where we’re at, where we need to get better and how hungry we are on a daily basis to try and achieve those goals,” he said.

“Everyone talked about the performance last week (a 34-10 win over Wales) but I asked the guys after all the reviews, ‘where do you think we are at?’

“And, to a man, everyone thought the performance wasn’t good enough.

“We’ll do exactly the same with this now and keep pushing the standards, that’s what it’s all about. That’s all that matters to us really. “

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