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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019
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Schmidt: 'We knew Johnny was ok' after collision with Bastareaud

The Ireland out-half will return to Racing Métro next week to prepare for a Top 14 clash with Clermont.

YOU WOULDN’T HAVE guessed Johnny Sexton was coming back after three months out of the game with a head injury.

Typically, the Ireland out-half hit high around the upper body of ball carriers this evening, dropping a shoulder into French attackers and wrapping his arms with the intention of stripping the ball or initiating that choke tackle he so loves.

Jonathan Sexton with a cut above his eye Sexton suffered a cut in the second half. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Mathieu Bastareaud fell foul of Sexton’s high tackle focus with eight minutes on the clock, conceding the turnover in contact, but the France centre left his mark on Sexton in a jarring collision early in the second half.

That meant 10 minutes off the pitch as Sexton had a blood injury dealt with and underwent a Head Injury Assessment.

“We knew he was ok,” said Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt post-match when asked if he had been concerned at that point.

He was off for blood, he had to be sutured. He got a few stitches and a shiner. We were more worried that if that shiner blows up a little bit, it’s a little bit hard to judge distance and therefore we were a little bit worried.

“Our medical team did a HIA [Head Injury Assessment] on him anyway, just as a precaution to make sure. But he started giving out to the doc when the doc first came on and [therefore] we knew he was pretty lucid, cos that’s just like Johnny.

“He’s fine. He’s probably just frustrated that he missed one kick for touch that went out on the full, but I thought he kicked incredibly well out of his hand, including one fantastic kick into the right corner early on.”

Schmidt admitted that Sexton’s appetite for contact in midfield is always a worry, even when the out-half is not making a comeback from concussion-related issues.

“That’s the thing: it’s a concern I have with Johnny, because I know he’s not going to give any quarter and he’s not going to back off,” said Schmidt at the Aviva Stadium.

Jonathan Sexton kicks Sexton was 100% off the tee for Ireland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“When Bastareaud came at him, and he got Bastareaud’s elbow a couple of times, you do worry because you know he’s not going to back off.

“But he’s a super competitor and that spreads through the team. I think the defence against Australia, and today, are both really good examples of a well led team defending, even though we’re under a lot of pressure. Johnny is an important part of that.”

Sexton will now return to Racing Métro for training next week as the French side look towards a crucial home clash with Clermont on Saturday. Ireland’s home-based players will enjoy a down weekend, but Sexton is likely to chalk up another start.

Schmidt said it is an unwelcome feature of Sexton being contracted outside Ireland, although he pointed out that the 29-year-old himself is as characteristically eager to play as ever.

It is [a worry], but it’s not something we can control unfortunately,” said Schmidt. “I’ve no doubt that Racing will be delighted to have him back and I think Johnny is relatively happy to play.

“He feels he needs to get back in the saddle and get some rhythm. He’s feeling great, so he’s probably putting his hand up himself to the Racing coaches and looking to play.

Sexton and Bastareaud shared a moment after the game despite Johnny almost losing his head

6 talking points after Joe Schmidt’s Ireland see out victory over France

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Murray Kinsella

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