Johnny Sexton says his mind is already starting to focus on the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Ireland outhalf says it is natural for international players to allow their thoughts wander towards the showpiece event, though he suggests focusing on performing well for their provinces is the best way to build towards it.
Leinster begin the defence of their PRO14 title away to Cardiff Blues on Friday week, while Ireland will start the new term in November by facing Italy, Argentina, New Zealand and the USA in their Autumn Series.
Joe Schmidt’s Six Nations champions and world second-ranked side are 9/2 to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Sexton admits it isn’t that far away in reality.
Between now and the World Cup, we’re probably going to have about 25 games to play.
“We view it as the start of next season,” he says of next September’s tournament in Japan. “But it definitely is in our minds now.
“Between now and the World Cup, we’re probably going to have about 25 games to play. When you put it like that, it’s not too many. So you have to try and find your best form, make sure you stay fit.
“You can’t look too far ahead at the same time. You sort of break the season down into blocks, which is something you get better at as you get older. It’s about getting fit, getting to those early games, then get into Europe and try to get into that November squad.”
Leinster are 11/8 to retain the PRO14 title, with the Grand Final to take place at Celtic Park in Glasgow for the first time next season.
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