Johnny Sexton says Ireland’s confidence was high ahead of their nine successive wins
Ireland captain Johnny Sexton insists confidence in the side has never wavered under Andy Farrell’s reign as head coach.
The in-form Irish have won nine straight after Saturday’s resounding 29-7 Guinness Six Nations victory over defending champions Wales in Dublin.
Ireland had to settle for successive third places in Farrell’s first two league campaigns at the helm, with title hopes dashed in two rounds last year after a frustrating loss to the Welsh in Cardiff and a narrow defeat at home against France.
But the Irish, who face a fearsome trip to Paris next weekend, have not been beaten since.
Fly-half Sexton says the players have maintained confidence throughout the transition period.
“There was always confidence in the group, even when times were low,” said the 36-year-old.
“After the first two games in the Six Nations last year, we felt we weren’t too far behind and luckily we turned things around in terms of results.
“You are never sure to go to Paris because it is a difficult place but I have confidence in the group.
“I’m convinced that we believe that if we play our best we can win and that’s what we have to bring out this week.
“Set up well, make sure we recover properly, put on our best performances and see where it takes us.”
Ireland cruised to victory over the exhausted Welsh in a sold-out Aviva Stadium after Bundee Aki’s early try, a second-half brace from Andrew Conway and Garry Ringrose’s solo score.
Farrell dismissed suggestions that a tougher opening Test would have been more beneficial in preparing to face the Blues.
“It was a tough job – you can ask the guys, they’re pretty sore,” he said. “I actually thought Wales made it very difficult, they tried to put pressure on us.
“Fair play to the players for having had the courage of their own beliefs to play the game we wanted to play.
“As for the hit (for France), it was perfect for us because some of our guys haven’t played a big game in a long time, getting people back on their feet and running is great.
“We have to make sure we recover properly and move on.”