Johnny Sexton urges Ireland to seize Grand Slam shot vs. England

Johnny Sexton has urged Ireland to seize their chance at a Grand Slam. Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton has challenged his Ireland teammates to seize the opportunity in front of them and clinch a Six Nations Grand Slam and triple crown against England at Twickenham next Saturday.

While Sexton didn't play in any of the games which led to the 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam win against Wales, he was involved in the squads. He would go on to make his Irish debut that November against Fiji.

Although he racked up his third championship title with victory over Scotland on Saturday, the two biggest team accolades in northern hemisphere rugby -- the Grand Slam and Triple Crown -- have evaded him.

"I remember playing Scotland in Croke Park for a Triple Crown [in 2010] and almost taking it for granted, because I thought, 'Triple Crown, I'll have plenty more opportunities at this' -- and I still haven't won a Triple Crown," said Sexton. "You've got to take these opportunities with both hands when they come."

Despite being around the team during their triumphant run in '09, Sexton didn't feel he played a part. He wants to rectify that against England.

"As [former Ireland head coach] Declan Kidney said, I was just as much a part of it as everyone else back in 2009 when I was in the bibs. I definitely didn't feel that way," said Sexton.

"I remember some of the talks that were made around those times. The [Paul] O'Connells, [Brian] O'Driscolls, [Ronan] O'Garas, that were trying to achieve this first [Grand Slam] for 10 years. And you could tell by, I suppose, by their speeches and their action through that season -- how much it meant to them.

"They had to drag along guys like Luke Fitzgerald and Tommy Bowe, Rob Kearney, these young guys coming through. It's very similar now: I know Rory [Best] is desperate for a Grand Slam because he feels he'll be a bigger part of it now than he played back then."

"For us it is about trying to drag those young lads along. They probably think they are going to get a load of opportunities but as I know, it doesn't work out like that."