Johnny Sexton: Ireland captain allays fears over his fitness ahead of second All Blacks Test

·4-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Johnny Sexton has allayed fears over his fitness ahead of Ireland’s clash with New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday, saying he is “fine” to play.

The experienced fly-half was an early casualty during last Saturday’s 42-19 loss to the All Blacks at Eden Park when he was forced off the field after failing an on-field assessment following a head knock.

Concerns were raised by safety campaign group Progressive Rugby after Ireland head coach Andy Farrell named Sexton in his starting line-up for this weekend’s crucial second Test against their hosts.

Fully fit

But Sexton says he is ready for action and revealed that he expected to return to the field in Auckland after his head collided with All Blacks captain Sam Cane’s legs.

“You go off for an HIA (head injury assessment) and you don’t come back on, everyone presumes that’s a concussion, but it’s not,” he told the Irish Times.

“It’s just, if there is a suspected (concussion) or if there is any doubt about the player.

“And obviously the independent doctor felt for whatever reason, my reaction to the knock or whether it was one or two little things in the test, but anyway, that’s history now.

“I went off for tests expecting to come back on and wasn’t allowed, which is fair enough, that’s what it’s there for.

“It’s there to protect players if there is a suspected concussion, that they are kept off, and that’s what happened with the independent doctor.

“As frustrating as it was for me at the time, it’s just life. Yeah, move on, did all the tests and obviously passed all of them with flying colours. Looking forward to this week.”

The 36-year-old has a history of head knocks and has battled with it and its perception throughout his career.

According to World Rugby protocols, an in-game head injury assessment – known as the HIA One test – advises if a player should sit out the rest of the match as a precaution but does not confirm a concussion.

If a player goes on to pass second and third assessments in the 36 hours after the fixture, like Sexton did, they are deemed not to have a confirmed concussion and will then be able to play in the next fixture.

Progressive Rugby believes World Rugby’s head injury assessment (HIA) process is “being exposed” as it referenced Ireland front-row Jeremy Loughman and the safety campaign group said the “only option must be to err on the side of caution”.

Although the prop was stumbling after sustaining a head knock during Ireland’s warm-up encounter with the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton last week, Loughman was initially permitted to return to action before he was taken off at half-time.

“You saw the one during the Maori game, obviously a totally different thing, and that has been criticised as well,” continued Sexton.

“So, it’s very hard to win in this scenario. But everyone just tries to do their best by the players.

“We have got a great medical staff and set-up here. I think they expected to see me back on but look, we passed all the tests and we are ready to go this week now thankfully.”

Ireland chasing first win in New Zealand

Ireland must win on Saturday to keep the three-Test series alive and Sexton feels a first triumph in New Zealand would set them up nicely ahead of a potential decider in Wellington.

“If you can win the second Test, the momentum always swings to you and you feel like you’ve got the ascendancy,” he said.

“But we haven’t really spoken about the series. It’s really just getting back on the horse and making sure we put our best foot forward.

“We were happy with some of the things we did last week, but they are pretty ruthless, aren’t they? We found out the hard way last Saturday.”

READ MORE: Ireland: Safety campaigners concerned about Johnny Sexton’s selection for All Blacks Test

 

The article Johnny Sexton: Ireland captain allays fears over his fitness ahead of second All Blacks Test appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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