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Johnny Sexton does not put personal glory ahead of an Ireland victory over Tonga

Johnny Sexton believes none of his team-mates will care if he surpasses Ronan O’Gara as Ireland’s record points holder during Saturday’s clash with Tonga.

Captain Sexton is on the cusp of making history for the second successive weekend after becoming his country’s oldest international and leading World Cup points scorer in last weekend’s 82-8 thrashing of Romania.

The 38-year-old returned from an absence of almost six months to score two tries as part of an impressive 24-point haul in Bordeaux.

While he will start again in Nantes after Andy Farrell opted to go with a strong XV featuring just four personnel changes, his performance will not be influenced by chasing further personal glory.

“It’s not something that comes into my head too often,” said Sexton, who is nine points behind O’Gara’s tally of 1,083.

“Obviously I was unaware how close I was after the game last week until I came into the press conference and so now I’m getting reminded again.

“Look, it will be a very special moment individually but no one else will really care. I won’t be making decisions off the back of it.

“I want to win the game, I want to progress further in the competition and that is the only thing going through my head at the moment.”

Ireland take on the team ranked 15th in the world at Stade de la Beaujoire ahead of pivotal Paris appointments against South Africa and Scotland.

Head coach Farrell has resisted temptation for serious rotation before the showdown with the Springboks as he wishes to build momentum and not underestimate Tonga.

Hooker Ronan Kelleher, world player of the year Josh van der Flier, scrum-half Conor Murray and wing Mack Hansen have been restored.

Farrell admits “you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t” in regard to possibly making wholesale changes.

“A bit of continuity from last week, it’s a different game, a different challenge,” the Englishman said of the Pool B encounter.

Ireland Training Session – IRU High Performance Centre – Wednesday March 15th
Mack Hansen is back (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Respecting the opposition is absolutely at the forefront of our minds, respecting the competition but more so respecting ourselves.

“That side that played last week hadn’t played together before, we get to roll on to this one and you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t (make changes).

“The only thing that I care about is winning this weekend because the points that are on offer is exactly the same as what’s coming down the line.”

The 48-year-old also dismissed suggestions his selection was influenced by the 2019 World Cup, when Ireland suffered a shock pool-stage loss to hosts Japan after resting key players.

“Everyone keeps talking about four years ago but we’re a different team, different circumstances, it’s a different competition,” said Farrell, who was assistant to Joe Schmidt then.

“We move on. It’s never been talked about at all.”

Veteran fly-half Sexton, who will retire following the tournament, had no interest in potentially being protected with the reigning world champions in mind.

“I don’t have any say in selection,” he said.

“I just rock up to training and do my best. Obviously I want to play, I mean when you only have a certain amount of games left of course you want to play.

“But it’s what is right for the team, what is right for different individuals and that was probably all taken into consideration. But no, I didn’t have to do much talking (with Farrell).”