Teams are going after Johnny Sexton, says Leo Cullen

Leinster coach was disappointed with some late hits from Wasps on the outhalf

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton is tackled by Kearnan Myall of Wasps during their Champions Cup quarter-final tie. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton is tackled by Kearnan Myall of Wasps during their Champions Cup quarter-final tie. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Concerns about Johnny Sexton being repeatedly hit without the ball have been expressed by Leinster coach Leo Cullen following this Champions Cup quarter-final victory over Wasps.

Sexton completed the game but required sustained treatment for an ongoing shoulder problem following incidents in the 30th and 45th minute.

“You see the way teams are targeting Johnny,” said Cullen after the 32-17 win over the Premiership leaders which sets up a semi-final in France later this month.

“He was being hit late a couple of times,” Cullen continued. “Same as the England game. Teams are willing to go after him.

“It’s definitely something referees need to keep in mind because it is easy for a defender to commit to a tackle knowing that he is committed but knows he is not going to tackle the man before he gets the pass away. It is one of those grey areas but Johnny is definitely a recipient of that. You saw Rory Best making the point to the ref in the Ireland v England game. It is definitely something Johnny is going to have to face.

“But having a second receiver [Joey Carbery]takes away a little of that pressure [on Sexton].”

Cullen spoke about the injury Sexton appears to be managing, despite obvious pain, through games.

“It’s not a stinger but he has been getting bangs on his AC. You saw it in the Ireland v England game. But he is made of tough stuff, Johnny, and it was great to see him get through another 80 minutes considering some of the bangs and knocks that he has to take.”

The 31 year old underwent shoulder surgery last summer.

On Ashley Johnson’s off the ball body slam on Carbery in the 56th minute, Cullen added: “I’m surprised it didn’t get checked but they did review it at the time and said it was fine.”

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