Johnny Sexton out off Six Nations opener with head injuries
Ireland star faces stint on the sideline
JOHNNY SEXTON will miss Ireland's Six Nations opener against Italy next February after authorities in France stood him down until St Valentine's Day as a result of the succession of head injuries the fly-half has suffered.
The Racing Metro star has not played since being withdrawn from the fray during the second-half of the win over Australia at the Aviva Stadium last month after clashing with team-mate Rob Kearney and Adam Ashley-Cooper.
That was Sexton's third concussion on international duty in 2014, while he also suffered a broken jaw while playing for Racing earlier this season.
He was left out of his club's European games this month, but reports emerged in France yesterday saying he has suffered nausea and headaches and has not participated in any contact drills at training.
Sexton has been assessed by the Top 14's medical committee who have decided he should not play for another six weeks.
The IRFU have yet to receive official notification of the situation and were not in a position to comment on the scenario last night, but the Irish Independent understands that the reports are accurate.
There was better news for tighthead prop Mike Ross who has signed a new one-year deal with the IRFU to continue his career beyond the World Cup.
It is believed the deal the 34-year-old has signed is reduced from his current contract, but is heavily incentivised.
Despite his being well into his 30s, Ross remains a central figure in Ireland’s plans at next year’s World Cup. He is the only player to have started every one of Joe Schmidts 13 games in charge and, while a number of pretenders to the throne are beginning to emerge, the Corkman remains the number one.
Meanwhile, Dan Carter has signed his three-year, £1m a year contract to replace Johnny Sexton at Racing Metro.
“It’s going to be an awesome adventure. Having visited France many times, including my time with Perpignan, I know what the French culture and their rugby culture is like and it’s something I love,” he said.
Former Australia captain James Horwill will join Harlequins next season, while Adam Ashley-Cooper will play for Bordeaux.
England’s Six Nations chances have suffered a blow after Joe Launchbury was ruled out with a neck injury, while Charlie Matthews has escaped sanction thanks to evidence from Leinster flanker Dominic Ryan who told a disciplinary panel the Quins lock did not make contact with his eye during Saturday night’s Champions Cup clash.