Dates: 2 February-16 March
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Fly-half Jack Crowley says he will try not to compare himself to predecessor Johnny Sexton as he prepares to play a bigger role with Ireland.
Crowley is expected to take the 10th Ireland shirt for the next six games following Sexton’s retirement.
But the 24-year-old is said to be on trial alongside Sexton when he gives Ireland a big chance.
“We can only judge on the big stage,” he said when asked how he differs from the former Ireland captain.
“He’s been there and he’s done it. I think if I were to compare myself to him it would be difficult because he’s been in these big events and he’s accomplished them.
“For me, I’m going to create and if I get the chance I’ll take it and then we’ll compare and you can argue and decide and let me know.
“We all believe that we have our strengths and it’s something that you try to play, not try to force, it depends on what you naturally have as a player and to join a team like this where guys do well in preparation. , that’s what allows you to do.”
Crowley is expected to start at half-time in Ireland’s opening Six Nations game against France on Friday night in what will be a big night for the Munster Man.
The Cork-born player, who helped Munster win the United Rugby Championship title last season, faces competition for the role from the Leinster trio of Harry Byrne, Ciaran Frawley and Sam Prendergast.
But after observing Sexton’s attitude and leadership skills during last year’s Six Nations and Rugby World Cup, Crowley is relishing his chance to grow and become more important to his country.
“I think it’s got to be natural, it’s got to be real,” Crowley added when asked about the prospect of providing more power in Sexton’s absence.
“For me, I’ve been trying to learn a lot from Johnny over the last two years and learn as much as I can.
“His attitude is what he got, he went through tough games and that’s what made him a leader and a great player.
“It took a while to understand but that’s what I have to do. I have to grow and understand myself and my game and how I can affect the team.
“I don’t think I can just do fantasy, it has to be real. It’s about going out and not thinking about that side. These guys will benefit if I play my game and I hope they have a problem. the result of this team.”
Crowley was happy to play in front of the French people
Ireland face France in Marseille with Les Bleus’ home Stade de France unavailable as it prepares for the summer Olympics in Paris.
But with Andy Farrell’s side losing their last two games away to France in the Six Nations, Crowley hopes he and his team-mates can focus on their Stade de France World Cup win as they look to start their quest for a second successive title. A Grand Slam with a winning voice.
“Playing in France is the problem.
“Obviously we met Paris, the Stade de France, how strong it was with the Irish support and how special it was and how it helped us.
“I think Marseille saw a couple of games on the floor – South Africa v Scotland – and you saw the size of the stadium.
“I think it’s great to play in front of a French crowd, it brings great energy and a great place to play.”