Six Nations 2020: Ireland's Johnny Sexton eyes title on Cian Healy's 100th cap

Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton
Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton have been team-mates at both Ireland and Leinster

Captain Johnny Sexton has challenged Ireland to mark Cian Healy's 100th cap by claiming a fourth Six Nations crown in seven years in Paris on Saturday.

Healy should bring up his Test century in the mouthwatering clash with France.

Ireland can add another Six Nations crown to their 2014, 2015 and 2018 triumphs at the Stade de France.

To do so they must pull off an unprecedented bonus-point win to be certain of holding off title rivals England.

Ireland are a point clear of England, who face rock-bottom Italy in Rome, and France in the table, with the top three all still in with a chance of success.

Sexton believes Ireland can carve out the openings for four scores in Paris, but conceded converting them will be a different matter entirely against the resurgent hosts.

'Every Ireland centurion a legend'

Healy can become Ireland's sixth Test centurion this weekend, leaving Sexton paying tribute to the combative 33-year-old British and Irish Lions front-rower.

"If Cian gets picked it's an incredible feat - you look at the guys that have 100 caps, you don't get there easily," said Sexton.

"Every player in that category is a legend of the game in Ireland, and he'll add himself to that legacy if he gets that cap. And he deserves it, he's so professional.

"He had the one very serious injury, and he put in an unbelievable amount of work to get back from that.

"If it is his 100th cap we want to honour him in the best way possible, and the way to do that is by winning the game."

'We'll need to be clinical'

Ireland's facile 50-17 win over Italy in Dublin on Saturday has handed Andy Farrell's side the chance of more silverware.

While the visitors may need to break new ground to lift the title, Sexton says they have the wherewithal to pull off that first bonus-point win in France.

Asked to explain the size of the task, Sexton said: "I suppose we just have to wait and see, all we can control at the moment is our performance.

"So we've just had to emphasise to everyone that we need to get the performance right no matter what.

"We know if we perform well we'll create chances, so we'll have to take them, we'll need to be clinical."

Ireland 'hugely capable' of bonus-point win in France

Leinster prop Healy's stellar Ireland career was so nearly halted by a horror neck injury, but the bullish ball-carrier has battled past a host of setbacks to stand on the cusp of that 100-cap milestone.

Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara, Rory Best, Paul O'Connell and John Hayes are the only Irishmen to reach the 100 mark.

But while he could join that illustrious group this weekend, Healy admitted he has been trying to focus on the fight for silverware.

Cian Healy
Healy made his Ireland debut against Australia in 2009

Asked where sealing a Six Nations on the occasion of his 100th cap wound rank, Healy said: "I don't know, I'm not sure. I don't tend to do rankings and things like that of achievements.

"The Grand Slam was a big one, there's Heineken Cups, there's lots of big ones. I just want to continue to add more towards success and not looking for number one achievements. I have loads of number one achievements that were all huge amounts of success with different groups of players.

"This time it's our opportunity to have success with this group. Whenever that day comes you'll think back on them, but there's no time to think back now.

"This is an opportunity to win a medal and a trophy. Hopefully I get a shot to do it if selected. It will be an unbelievably tough challenge but something this group is hugely capable of."

Mon 26th / Tue 27th Oct

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