Johnny Sexton says it will be “very special” if Ireland secure the Six Nations Triple Crown at home by beating Scotland on Saturday which would be their first silverware won in front of a home crowd in Dublin since 2004.
Victory over the Scots — who denied Ireland the Triple Crown at Lansdowne Road in 2010 — would also keep alive Ireland’s dreams of winning the title.
France host England later on Saturday where victory for the French would secure them their first Grand Slam and title since 2010.
A division of the spoils would be similar to 2004 when the French achieved the Grand Slam and the Irish the Triple Crown.
“It would be very special,” said Sexton at Tuesday’s press conference.
“Once we lost to France (30-24 in Paris) this was our target and is the only thing in our control.
“A win will guarantee the Triple Crown which would be a good thing.
“Then we will sit back and watch the end of it (France v England).”
Sexton said though that victory over a Scotland side, who are hurting after underperforming in the tournament following an opening win over England, is far from assured.
“We have to hold up our end of the bargain and perform on the big stage,” the 36-year-old fly-half said.
“If we do get it right and get a win we have a chance to win the title.”
‘Not good at the horses’
Sexton says he recalls the game in 2010 when they lost 23-20 to the Scots who in the process also avoided the ignominy of the wooden spoon.
“Yes I do take something out of it as we were expected to win that day too but Scotland won,” said Sexton.
“The scar is still with me and that is exactly the message I want to get across to the lads many of whom will not even recall that game.
“It was a bad day as we got nothing out of it.
“They are (losses like that) the benefits of experiences as it teaches us to get our match prep spot on.”
Sexton — who has gone on to win silverware abroad such as securing the Six Nations title and Grand Slam at Twickenham in 2018 — said the Scots will not be taken for granted.
“We won’t underestimate them,” he said.
“They have had brilliant victories away from home in the last couple of years in Paris and at Twickenham.
“They have taken big scalps away from home and are a team to reckon with even with no championship to play for.
“In fact that can make them even more dangerous as they have nothing to lose and want to finish as high up the table as possible.
“We are preparing for their best performance and they have outstanding individuals.”
For veteran second row forward Iain Henderson winning the Triple Crown would make up for a season that has seen his play restricted due to injuries.
“It has been an incredibly frustrating season for me,” he said.
“It (winning the Triple Crown) would be absolutely enormous and I am not sure if any of the guys have lifted silverware at home before.
“It is massively exciting and a massive driver for us but we must set that aside and concentrate on the game.”
Sexton is renowned for his determination to win but whilst some of the players are shelling out a bit of money on betting at the Cheltenham Festival he is steering clear.
“Most Irish people love it including many of the players but I am not good at the horses so I stay away from it.”