Sexton cleared to face Castres as Leinster clarify Friday’s HIA procedure

LEINSTER HAVE MOVED to clarify the circumstances surrounding Johnny Sexton’s prompt return to play during Friday’s win over Montpellier.

Sexton receives attention from the province’s medical staff. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Leinster and Ireland out-half was hit late by his opposite number, Francois Steyn, in the 27th minute of the Champions Cup pool game at the RDS and required on-field attention from the province’s medical team.

After gingerly getting to his feet, and watching the brutal one-arm hit on the big screen, Sexton made his way off for a Head Injury Assessment under the guidance of team doctor Professor John Ryan.

It was largely expected that Sexton — as a player with a history of head injuries — would not return but a matter of minutes later, and after successfully passing the initial HIA 1, he re-emerged from the RDS dressing room.

Eyebrows were raised over the length of time — between four and six minutes — that he was off the field for with many pointing to World Rugby’s principles, which state that a HIA is a 10-minute off-field assessment.

But the eastern province have this afternoon confirmed that Sexton had in-fact sustained a neck injury and their medical staff followed every procedure before giving him the all-clear to play on.

“The only thing that I can say is that he passed all the tests that were put in front of him and he came back on the field,” Stuart Lancaster said.

Sexton has been declared fit for Friday’s game against Castres. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“You can’t skip certain parts of the test, the medical team certainly wouldn’t allow that. The medical team have to be completely certain he’s fit to go back on the field after completing the HIA tests, which Johnny did and he came back on the field.

“That’s it. He’s 100% fine, he’s chirping away in meetings now and he’s ready to go for Friday.”

Sexton is, of course, no stranger to head injuries and was sidelined for three months due to concussion two years ago.

Although he wasn’t included in Leinster’s weekly injury update today, the questions raised were legitimate given the player involved and continued uncertainty surrounding the HIA protocols.

The 31-year-old did, however, pass all three HIAs — during and after the game, and then the day after — and was present at squad training in UCD this afternoon.

Leinster say he is fit and available for Friday’s trip to Castres, and that will come as a great relief for supporters.

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