Jonathan Sexton is all set to be one of the stars of next year's RBS 6 Nations, but the Leinster fly-half has admitted that dream seemed a long way off 12 months ago.
The 24-year-old, who kicked the winning penalty in Leinster’s Heineken Cup final win over Leicester last season, made his second start for Ireland during last month’s victory over South Africa at Croke Park.
Sexton was selected ahead of Ronan O’Gara for the game against the world champions and justified Declan Kidney’s decision by holding his nerve to kick all of Ireland’s points in the 15-10 win.
But Sexton, who broke two fingers in the clash with the Springboks, admitted his rise to stardom hasn’t been without its difficulties.
“I was very low, depressed probably, around Christmas time last year,” said Sexton.
“I wasn’t in the Leinster team and was wondering would I be still there at the end of the season.
“This is a team I always wanted to play for; my home team and one that means so much to me.
“I basically decided to do everything possible to make it. I knew it was going to be tough.
“The catalyst in terms of my situation came when Deccie (Declan Kidney) gave me a chance in the A team just after Christmas.
“I’ve sort of gone on from there, been happy with my form since so that was probably a big break for me because it was that performance that probably got me back in the Leinster team.”