Sexton: I aspire to be where they are
Jonathan Sexton "aspires" towards England's level of consistency under coach Eddie Jones, writes Des Berry.
"They have equalled the All Blacks unbeaten record. That speaks for itself," said Ireland's out-half.
"This team has been together for six years now. They are going for back-to-back Grand Slams.
"They have been through ups and downs and they are reaping the rewards of that from last season's Grand Slam all the way through to now."
He didn't discount the theory that England may already be up there on a pedestal with New Zealand.
"We're playing against the second best team in the world; some would argue they could be the best.
"Yeah, you've got to say that, especially consistency-wise," he said.
In many ways, Ireland are back in November, back in the role of the underdog, always capable of taking a big bite out of England's record.
"I think we can say we can beat these teams," he said.
"But, we haven't come near to 18 wins in a row. That's what we need to aspire to be like."
Sexton and Conor Murray are the glue that binds Ireland together from front-to-back.
The removal of the scrum-half with a shoulder injury means Sexton and Kieran Marmion will start for Ireland for the first time.
There is the well-reasoned impression out there that Sexton already carried too great a burden with Murray.
"I feel pressure every game I play for Ireland and every game I play for Leinster," he said.
"You have got pressure automatically because you need to perform."