Tommy Dickson/INPHO
# clarification
Sexton a doubt for Thomond as Leinster clear up confusion regarding his HIA against Exeter
Johnny Sexton has entered the Return to Play Protocols as Leinster confirm he failed HIA v Exeter.

LEINSTER HAVE CONFIRMED – again – that Johnny Sexton failed his HIA having suffered a head injury in their 22-17 victory over Exeter at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

There had been some confusion with regards to his condition when Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt claimed during the RTÉ Sport Awards on Saturday night that Sexton had indeed passed his HIA despite his being withdrawn by Leo Cullen following a knock to his head. Schmidt explained that he had spoken to Sexton, who was ‘fine’.

Leinster have clarified the matter, however, and confirmed today that Sexton ‘failed his Head Injury Assessment 1 and as a result has entered the Return to Play Protocols’.

This doesn’t definitively rule him out of his side’s Stephen’s Day visit to Munster, however.

A six-day process all going well, the Return to Play Protocols began for Sexton on Sunday – a rest day.

He will undergo four HIA stages this week – a process which began on Monday – and should he pass each of them, he’ll be permitted to return to contact as early as Friday – four days before Leinster’s Pro 14 trip to Thomond.

Day one, post-match (Sunday) is a complete rest day, while day two (yesterday) consists of a light cardio session on a bike. If symptoms of concussion are detected during this 20-minute bike session, the player is not cleared to go on to the next stage.

Day three consists of a slightly increased workload, where a symptom-free player does some moderate running.

If no ill effects are detected still by this stage, Sexton will be given a strength and conditioning routine for day four, though this will be a reduced workload to what he would typically be used to.

Sexton will be assessed by Leinster’s team doctors throughout each of these stages, and should he show no recurrence of symptoms, he’ll be cleared to return to contact training for day five (Friday).

Should he fail any of these three stages, however, the entire six-day process begins again at the first stage.

Sexton missed the corresponding fixture last season having suffered a hamstring injury during Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago, but Leinster remain hopeful he’ll be cleared for selection next Tuesday.

"Hands up if you've got more teeth than daddy" Worth if when you get the win...

A post shared by Sean Cronin (@seanie_.cronin) on

His fellow Lion Seán O’Brien will not play a role in Leinster’s first interpro of the Christmas period, however: O’Brien carried a couple of knocks into Leinster’s home game with Exeter and will not be considered for selection by Leo Cullen next week.

Hooker Seán Cronin fractured two teeth during Saturday’s victory and has undergone a procedure to address the issue. He will continue to be assessed as the week progresses.

Barry Daly, meanwhile, will return to on-field training this week and may be in contention for Thomond.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Dr Eanna Falvey outlines each step of rugby’s pro game concussion protocol

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