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Dublin: 4°C Friday 26 February 2021

'Props shouldn't talk about anything except scrums!' - Sexton on Second Captains

The Ireland out-half addressed Laurent Bénézech’s comments about his return from concussion.

IRELAND OUT-HALF Johnny Sexton says Laurent Bénézech’s comments about his return from concussion during the Six Nations came from an “uneducated” point of view.

DGlackin003 Sexton was speaking on Second Captains Live last night. Source: Eoin McDevitt

The former France prop criticised Joe Schmidt for selecting Sexton at out-half for Ireland’s meeting with les Bleus in February after the Racing Métro playmaker had spent 12 weeks out of the game due to concussion problems.

Bénézech, now a journalist and author, said Ireland and Schmidt were making “a big mistake” by starting Sexton in that game. The IRFU subsequently issued a strong statement underlining Sexton’s fitness and expressing their disappointment at “inaccurate commentary in the media by individuals with no medical expertise.”

Sexton was a guest on RTÉ’s Second Captains Live last night and gave his own takes on those events.

“If it was a doctor that said it I maybe could have understood it, but this guy is a prop that played in France,” said Sexton. “You know, props shouldn’t talk about anything except scrums!

So for someone like that to come out and say I shouldn’t be playing is an uneducated thing to say. It really got to us. I think he was having a go at Joe Schmidt for picking me, which was totally wrong because the coach gets told who’s fit and who’s not.

“I was declared fit by one of the top neurologists in Europe and the world and if he says you’re good to go, you’re good to go.”

Sexton did, however, admit that he had some genuine concerns for his own health at the outset of his 12-week rest period, which came after he had suffered four concussions in the space of a year.

“I think it’s a very uncertain time when you’re injured and you don’t know, with a brain injury as such, how your head’s going to react,” said Sexton. “I was worried at one stage after four weeks when I was still getting mild symptoms training and I was fearing the worst.

DGlackin006 Sexton spoke to Eoin McDevitt and Ken Early. Source: Donal Glackin

“I met the neurologist and that’s when we decided to stand down for 12 weeks. You always fear the worst when you’ve got a knee injury, you’re worried it’s not going to get better. It’s the same with your head, but thankfully as time went on I was 100% again.”

Sexton opted to put golfer Pádraig Harrington onto the Second Captain’s ‘Good Wall,’ with the out-half revealing that Harrington has had an impact on his own career.

“I met Pádraig a few years ago,” said Sexton. “We had a camp in Meath actually, it was the year Ireland won the Grand Slam [2009]. He came in to talk to us and I was literally tripping over every word he said.

“Some of the stuff just stuck with me and he’s probably the reason for being so honest about what goes through your head. Because when he was coming down the 18th that time he won his first Major, some of the stuff he was thinking about was letting down the people in the pub, you know, criticising him and he felt like he was letting them down.

That’s how it feels sometimes when you have a bad game or you miss an important kick. I was toying between him and Roy Keane today. I’m a massive Man United supporters and I can’t believe they’re not both on the wall.”

The Ireland international opted to pop Harrington in at number four in the top ten, with Carl Frampton losing his place on the ‘Good Wall’.

Sexton also spoke about Ireland’s prospects for the World Cup, life in Paris with Racing and his return to Leinster next season.

Watch the full Second Captains interview with Sexton on the RTÉ Player.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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