Johnny Sexton failed HIA after ‘stamp on the head’

Ireland outhalf was withdrawn at half-time after shipping a number of early knocks

Ireland’s Jonny Sexton lies injured against Scotland during the Six Nations match at Murrayfield. Photo: Graham Stuart/PA Wire

Ireland’s Jonny Sexton lies injured against Scotland during the Six Nations match at Murrayfield. Photo: Graham Stuart/PA Wire

 

Clarity was needed around the Johnny Sexton injuries, which ended his involved on 24 minutes of this otherwise routine victory at Murrayfield, when Ireland coach Joe Schmidt told the BBC: “Yeah he did [fail a HIA]. He got a stamp on the head. He got a little bit of treatment out there. He’s feeling okay now. We don’t think it is anything long term. We expect him to bounce back in the next couple of weeks.”

The initial damage Sexton sustained occurred in the 17th minute when hit by prop Allan Dell a split second after putting Jacob Stockdale away for Ireland’s second try.

“Johnny failed a HIA,” Schmidt confirmed. “In the lead up to our second try he hit the ground quite hard. He’s pretty good now.

“We were always going to err on the side of caution, just because we want to look after people.”

The implication in Schmidt’s initial “treatment” remark was Scotland targeting the world player of the year.

“Because he is who he is, that’s going to happen.

“He probably knew he was only playing 20 minutes and tried to jam it all into one quarter,” Schmidt joked. “He certainly got into a few contact situations. Certainly that pass release to get Jacob into that space in the set play was perfect.

“The guy probably could have got to Jacob if he wasn’t intent on getting to Johnny so sometimes that works to our advantage.”

That’s the risk reward line on which Sexton’s career exists.

On this day it gave Joey Carbery an opportunity to take control of an undecided Test match on foreign soil; the very situation this 22-year-old Munster outhalf has craved since moving from Dublin to Limerick last summer.

Within six minutes of Sexton’s departure, Carbery flung a pass into midfield that was picked off by Finn Russell leading to Sam Johnson’s try reducing the Irish lead to 12-10 at the interval.

Carbery recovered, dramatically so, to create the game’s decisive try for Keith Earls with a searing break through midfield.

Sexton leaves the pitch injured. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Sexton leaves the pitch injured. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

On the stamp comment, Schmidt clarified: “He copped a stamp, yeah. I don’t even think it was a Scottish foot. I think it was one of our guys who tripped over him.

“There as the first knock [from Allan’s hit] and he got another knock after that so it was a little bit accumulative. He got a stamp on the ankle and it was when they were treating that they decided he wasn’t 100 percent and that they needed to do a HIA and he didn’t pass the HIA.”

The Irish medics initially signalled for a blood replacement, as Sexton also appeared to be bleeding from his face or nose.

Sexton’s condition gave Schmidt the opportunity to explains away some of Conor Murray’s poor kicking.

“Conor [Murray] started taking a bit more responsibility when Johnny was feeling a little, kinda sluggish. Particularly because his ankle was very sore, it is very swollen now but it is just swelling, you can see the graze down his leg so from that perspective he will bounce back from that pretty quickly as well. Conor was trying to kick from positions he wouldn’t normally kick from and when you are trying too hard sometimes it goes awry.”

On Carbery’s excellent second half display Ireland captain Rory Best noted, “He’s benefitting greatly from being down at Munster. He grew into the game and some of the things you see him doing, he makes something out of nothing. I thought he bossed the forwards well and that was what that game was about. It was about inches, that’s all we were getting. When you lose a world class player like Johnny, for it not to go badly, that’s what you need from Joey. To recover from that intercept, he just bounced back because he is a cool customer.

“I think it was very important,” Best added. “If you lose two games you’re dead and buried. We’ll have to rely on other people which isn’t where you want to be. But if we hadn’t won today, we were definitely out of it. It was important to get the result. Obviously we wanted to improve in certain areas, physically, and we wanted to play a lot more like ourselves. We can be better, we can play more rugby, and I’m sure Joe will touch on that when we meet up again. With 15 minutes to go there was an opportunity to go for four tries but we couldn’t get the sustained pressure.”

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