British and Irish Lions 2013: Jonny Sexton disappointed Jonny Wilkinson is not involved in tour

The squad met up for the first time yesterday

Leinster fly-half Jonny Sexton would have loved the opportunity to learn from Jonny Wilkinson had the Englishman been selected to tour with the British and Irish Lions this summer.

Wilkinson, 33, was a high-profile omission from Warren Gatland's 37-man squad named last month, with Sexton and Saracens' Owen Farrell the two number 10s selected.

Sexton, whose Leinster side face Ulster in the RaboDirect PRO12 final just a week on from an Amlin Challenge Cup final date with Stade Francais, may only face opposition from Farrell for the fly-half berth but would rather have the experience of Wilkinson alongside him in the squad.

"A lot of people have said to me that it is great he wasn't picked because it gives me a better chance now," he said.

"But I look at it the other way. I would have liked him to go and would have loved to have learned from him, he is a bit of a legend.

"I obviously looked up to him when I was 16 and he was winning the World Cup with England."

Sexton will move to French Top 14 side Racing Metro following the Lions tour, after just under a decade turning out for his boyhood club.

He may sneak in a few French lessons during his time away on tour and is feeling in good shape after an injury lay-off earlier this season gave him time to recuperate.

"Hopefully I've used up all of my injuries for the year over the past few months," he said.

"It feels strange to be so fresh at this time of the year - I feel I'm just starting after the fact I've had two months off and I have played four games since [returning from injury] means I feel great.

"I'm starting to get a bit of match fitness and sharpness back, so hopefully I will peak at the right time for the two finals with Leinster and then the tour."

With Sexton's Leinster and Ireland team-mate Brian O'Driscoll missing the first Lions' squad meeting in London due to a slight back injury, the idea of not making the tour will be picking away at the players until the first Test in Brisbane on June 22.

But although Sexton admits the threat of injury remains constant, it is not something that is playing on his mind during the important fixtures coming up.

"Since the squad has been picked, at the back of the mind you're praying that it doesn't happen," he said.

"But once you get out on the pitch your competitiveness comes through and it is the last thing you think about.

"It is about winning and there are two finals with Leinster, it isn't like they are friendlies. Two competitive games, high pressure, they are the sorts of preparation you want."

Gatland confirmed yesterday that O'Driscoll was only suffering a minor back spasm and had not flown to London as a precautionary measure, with the 34-year-old likely to feature in Leinster's Amlin Cup final on Friday.

PA

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Sport
The RBS Six Nations trophy at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ireland vs England
rugby
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?