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Ireland suggest Johnny Sexton didn't fail HIA

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Johnny Sexton could yet make the second Test against the All Blacks after Ireland head coach Andy Farrell seemed to suggest that the Leinster flyhalf did not fail a HIA in Auckland.

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Farrell’s men capitulated following a strong start as a clinical New Zealand recorded an emphatic 42-19 first-Test victory.

However, the injury to Sexton loomed large over an already bitter defeat for the men in green. Sexton was forced off in the aftermath of a first-half Sevu Reece’s breakaway try. A slipping Sexton collided with the arm and knee of Sam Cane and appeared to clutch his head, before being removed a few minutes later for a HIA.

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Ireland head coach Andy Farrell after defeat to the All Blacks in the first test | Ireland post-match press conference
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Ireland head coach Andy Farrell after defeat to the All Blacks in the first test | Ireland post-match press conference

He didn’t return after leaving the field, leading many to assume he had failed the assessment.

If Sexton had failed his HIA he would effectively not been able to compete in the second Test under new World Rugby Gradudated Return to Play protocols for head injuries, which mean players can only return to play 12 days after their head knock.

A player can return 7 days after if passed by an independent concussion doctor.

Although he didn’t return to field, Farrell maintains that the veteran flyhalf could yet play in the second Test, which suggests he passed his HIA.

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“Johnny is good,” said Farrell. “He is in fine spirits. He has just passed his HIA 2 so he’s got a HIA 3 to do in the next couple of days and he’s in good form out there.”

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Farrell clarified that Sexton is not ruled out of the second Test, saying “No, no.” when asked by the reporters at the press conference in Auckland.

What remained unclear is why if he passed a HIA that he didn’t return to field of play. RugbyPass has requested clarification on the matter from the IRFU.

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Ireland, who made the scoreline more respectable thanks to second-half scores from Garry Ringrose and New Zealand-born Bundee Aki, paid a heavy price for repeated defensive lapses and face an uphill task to salvage the series.

Victory for the physical hosts avenged November’s 29-20 defeat in Dublin and maintained their impressive 28-year unbeaten run in a stadium which has become a fortress.

Ireland head coach Farrell also saw Joey Carbery and Josh Van Der Flier each denied certain tries by superb interventions from All Blacks centre Rieko Ioane.

– additional reporting PA

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