(Reuters) - Ireland captain Johnny Sexton said success in the Autumn Nations Cup starting on Friday will be the perfect launch pad for their 2021 Six Nations campaign after a disappointing third-placed finish this year.
Ireland needed a bonus point victory over France in Paris on Oct. 31 to seal the crown but fell to a 35-27 defeat that meant both teams missed out as England lifted the title after beating Italy 34-5.
“We want to target this competition and try and win it and then target next year’s Six Nations... everything this week is about playing to our potential,” Sexton, whose side face Wales in Dublin on Friday, told reporters.
“... We’ve drawn a line under the Six Nations realising that... the new coaching team was assembled over the start of the year, we’ve had the Six Nations and finished third.
“Obviously there are a lot of areas that we need to improve but also we took some positives that we’re not that far away. We created a lot of chances in the last game especially and we just need to start capitalising on them.
“We finished third so that’s the bottom line and we’ve got to improve... It’s been very much going through all the parts of our game, set pieces, starter plays, phase stuff, attack in their 22... all of that stuff needs to be better.”
Wales had a poor Six Nations campaign losing four of their five games to finish second-bottom.
“We’re playing against a team that’s obviously a lot better than the latest results would suggest,” Sexton added.
“They’ve had a couple of tight encounters that haven’t run their way as well so two teams that will be hurting a little bit... and it’ll be a really tough game come Friday.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger
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