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France's Marchand says 'nobody else is in Sexton's shoes' after head injury

The Ireland captain was forced off injured against Wales last weekend.

Sexton was replaced late in the game against Wales.
Sexton was replaced late in the game against Wales.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

FRANCE HOOKER JULIEN Marchand says nobody else can answer for Johnny Sexton as the Ireland captain looks to recover from a head injury during last weekend’s Six Nations clash with Wales to feature against France this Sunday.

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric’s knee accidentally made contact with Sexton’s head in the 69th minute of play in Cardiff, with the 35-year-old forced off after receiving attention on the pitch.

The Ireland out-half is now undergoing return-to-play protocols and could feature in Sunday’s clash with France if he comes through that process without any setbacks.

Ahead of the game between les Bleus and Ireland, two French neurosurgeons have today pointed to the risks for Sexton returning to action too soon after his latest head injury.

Dr Jean-François Chermann, whose recommendation resulted in Sexton being stood down from rugby for 12 weeks in 2014, told RMC Sport that “the doctor’s part, fundamental to this story, is this: if there are symptoms, if his tests are disturbed, the doctor must stop him from playing on Sunday.”

A second French neurosurgeon, Professor Jean Chazal, told Midi Olympique that “if Sexton plays on Sunday, it’s sad for him.”

However, France hooker Julian Marchand, who was removed from play for a Head Injury Assessment during his team’s meeting with Italy last weekend, has underlined that nobody else can speak for Sexton.

“Of course it is not a good thing if someone is concussed, that he was knocked out and took several blows to the head,” said Marchand.

“We are beginning to learn a little about the damage that can happen later in one’s life. After all of that, though, nobody else is in his [Sexton]‘s shoes. We do not know what he has exactly. Maybe he just took a blow to the head and everything is fine.

“This whole procedure is a delicate matter. Personally, if I had been knocked out or taken a heavy blow to the head, I would give up my place for the game this weekend.

“But it is not for me to answer in the place of someone else. He [Sexton] will reply for himself and we will see this weekend.”

Sexton is due to speak to the media tomorrow in his usual interview slot as Ireland captain.

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Marchand said he passed his own HIA during the Italy game, although he didn’t return to play, and will be fit to play against Ireland this weekend.

Earlier today, Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby confirmed that Sexton and James Ryan, who was also forced off with a head injury against Wales, were going through the return-to-play protocols and had not encountered any setbacks yet.

“It’s a six-stage set of protocols whereby each stage lasts about 24 hours and then if there are no symptoms resulting from the concussion, they can progress to the next stage,” said Easterby.

“At the moment, they are going through that and there have been no setbacks so far.

“That’s where we are at at the minute. There will be more to say later in the week, but currently, they are both going through the same stage of protocol to return to play by the weekend.”

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Murray Kinsella

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