Tuesday 17 October 2017

Cullen eases Sexton fears

The rampaging Jack Conan on his way to scoring his side's seventh try despite the efforts of Kelian Galletier Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
The rampaging Jack Conan on his way to scoring his side's seventh try despite the efforts of Kelian Galletier Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leo Cullen last night eased fears over the injury suffered by Johnny Sexton during Leinster's 57-3 thumping of 14-man Montpellier - a victory that secured their place in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

The Ireland out-half needed a Head Injury Assessment after a high and late tackle that resulted in his opposite number Frans Steyn being sent off by referee JP Doyle.

Johnny Sexton is seen by medics during the first half Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Johnny Sexton is seen by medics during the first half Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

However, Leinster coach Cullen said the medical team were more concerned about Sexton's neck as a result of the collision and the 31-year-old passed the test and returned to the field of play after less than four minutes in the dressing-room. The time allotted for the HIA is eight to 10 minutes.

Leinster were already well on their way when Steyn made the challenge that left Sexton prone, and Cullen said the Springbok could have few complaints about the 27th-minute red card.

Given Sexton's history with head injuries, there will be relief at the province and with the national team that he showed no ill-effects.

"We were probably more concerned about Johnny's neck, he flew through the HIA," said Cullen. "He was fine. He's up and about in the dressing-room. With everything going on at the moment it's a very tough area.

"I haven't studied it in enough detail, but it's late and it's around the head. Players have been made aware of it. The word accidental doesn't mean anything any more.

"It's a tough one, a red card in rugby is a big deal and it gives the opposition, which is us, a big advantage."

Isa Nacewa suffered a dead-leg according to the coach, while Robbie Henshaw came off with some muscle tightness.

The eight-try win means Leinster have qualified for the Champions Cup quarter-final, and victory over Castres away next Friday would ensure they'll be at home in the last eight.

"We've got to go over to Castres and win the game, which gets us a home quarter-final," Cullen said.

"It's nice playing on a Friday when you've won, you can watch all of the other games and look at the permutations. It was a simple equation, a win tonight and we're in the quarter-finals and win next week and we'll be at home.

"We're satisfied with a very good win, I thought the lads showed really good intent. We want to play at pace and sometimes when you do that you see the rewards.

"The red card changed the dynamic of the game drastically, but guys were playing well before that. Having a breeze in the second half on top of that helped, but Montpellier came with intent to play and that got them in trouble when they were down to 14-men.

"Overall, it's very pleasing."

Meanwhile, Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has made four changes to his side as they look to top Pool 1 with victory over Glasgow this evening.

Jack O'Donoghue replaces injured flanker Tommy O'Donnell, while Jean Kleyn, Keith Earls and Dave Kilcoyne also come into the side.

Irish Independent

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