Ireland flyhalf Jonny Sexton says that he is disappointed that Jonny Wilkinson will not be alongside him on the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
England fly-half great Wilkinson, 33, was omitted when Lions coach Warren Gatland named his 37-man squad last month, with Ireland's Sexton and current Red Rose No 10 Owen Farrell the two lone specialist stand-offs for the combined side.
Sexton, who is set to play two high-profile matches for Leinster before the Lions depart for Australia - against Stade Francais in the European Challenge Cup final on Friday and next week against Ulster in the Celtic League final - said he took no pleasure in Wilkinson's absence.
"A lot of people have said to me that it is great he wasn't picked because it gives me a better chance now," Sexton said.
"But I look at it the other way. I would have liked him to go and would have loved to have learnt 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, who will move to French Top 14 side Racing Metro following the Lions tour, hopes he has got through the worst of an injury-interrupted season.
"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," added Sexton, a provincial and Ireland colleague of Lions star Brian O'Driscoll.
He said he had no thought of taking it easy with Leinster to spare himself a further injury that could wreck his Lions prospects.
"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."