Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has said that there is no reason for his side not to relish their chances two years out from the next Rugby World Cup in 2023.
Farrell was part of the backroom that led Ireland into the last Rugby World Cup in Tokyo in which they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage once again after being underwhelming.
The Englishman then took the reins after Joe Schmidt left the role and has been building towards France 2023 since.
The former England defence coach has spoken about the tournament, 23 months out from it’s first match.
“Like I said before, why can’t we dare to dream?” Farrell said at this afternoon’s press conference.
“Why can’t we? I’m sure that there’s five or six or seven teams, it might be 10 teams that’ll be in the same position by the World Cup but why don’t we embrace the challenge and use that challenge to better our journey along the way?
“That’s the message to the players, so let’s get started on that.”
The side are using the competition as motivation on the road to it but the Ireland boss does not believe the players will look at their short-term goals differently as a result.
The team have three Autumn internationals to look forward to this November, including a first game against the All Blacks since the Rugby World Cup in Japan and a first fixture between the sides in Dublin since Ireland’s famous victory over them in the year before.
Sexton and co. also have trips to Twickenham and the Stade de France to focus on in next year’s Six Nations.
“If you look at the challenges that we’ve got again this year, obviously I’ve just gone through the three campaigns, but at the same time we go to Twickenham, we go to Paris for two away games as well.
“They’re all going to be opportunities for us to learn, and yes, along this journey there’s going to be bumps, but that’s great for our learning, our experiences, and our memory along the way to get there.
“The pressures of players desperately wanting to represent their country in a World Cup is how it should be, and I’m sure some fall by the wayside over the next two years but hopefully most of them will flourish.”