Six Nations 2014: Sexton admits struggles with France move

Ireland's Jonny Sexton

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton has admitted he had doubts over his move from Leinster to Top 14 side Racing Metro during his early days in France.

The player is confident that he is now settling into the French lifestyle following his summer switch.

"There have been games where I thought 'I'm walking in on Monday and telling them I'm going home'," said Sexton.

"Then there's other games where I've come off thinking 'right, this is the start of it, I could be here forever'."

"My wife and I struggled at the start, but it was pretty easy to settle into the club as there were plenty of people doing their best to make you feel at home.

"It was more the simple things, like finding the right shops and where to get petrol, that sort of thing, that caused the most stress.

"There are ups and downs, like everything else, you just have to make the most of it."

Ireland open their Six Nations campaign by hosting Scotland in Dublin on Sunday, with Sexton expected to add to his 38 caps as part of the starting line-up.

With that in mind, Irish coach Joe Schmidt was relieved to see his first-choice number 10 come through his club's 25-5 victory over Top 14 rivals Toulouse last weekend unscathed.

Sexton's form will also be a source of encouragement for the Irish coaching staff, the fly-half scoring and converting an early try, Jacque Cronje's charge-down of an attempted clearance kick by Lionel Beauxis, having enabled him to ground the loose ball.

The 28-year-old then burst down the touchline before chipping ahead for fellow Lion and half-back partner Mike Phillips to win the race for the line.

A try, a brace of conversions and two penalties over the course of a full-on 74-minute showing will have given Schmidt the reassurance he needed as to Sexton's mental and physical condition.

Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton scored 15 points for Racing Metro last weekend

"I played 13 games in a row off the back of the Lions tour, so I probably felt a bit drained going into the autumn internationals," admitted Sexton.

"I picked up a few injuries during the autumn series too so I had a bit of a break after that and they (Racing Metro) have managed me better after that.

"I've been starting one week and on the bench the next, and I managed a bit of a holiday last week too."

Despite his big-money move to France last summer, Sexton hailed the IRFU for securing back-row pair Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien on new contracts.

Munster duo Paul O'Connell and Keith Earls and Ulster hooker Rory Best have also signed new IRFU deals, to complement the decisions of Heaslip and O'Brien to spurn big money offers to move to France.

Sexton revealed one of his Ireland team-mates sought his advice about a move to France, but admitted he was pleased to see the IRFU tie them down.

"I think it's great that they're staying, the IRFU, fair play to them, they've really stepped up to the plate," he said.

"I think it's important for Irish rugby that guys stay. I sound like a bit of a hypocrite, but that's the bottom line."

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