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o'connell: sexton to keep his head

The IRFU has hit back at what it views as uninformed criticism over the return-to-play procedures followed by them in relation to out-half Jonathan Sexton.

Ex-France international Laurent Benezech is outraged Sexton has been allowed to play against Les Bleus tonight, describing it as "a big mistake."

"I can tell you already what will be the first way France will use the ball. It will be number nine (Rory Kockott) to (Mathieu) Bastareaud, straight at Johnny Sexton."

In response, the IRFU released a statement last night listing a number of facts relating to Sexton's selection and casting a cloud over the comments of "individuals with no medical expertise."

It revealed Sexton "has been symptom free for 2 months" and "was cleared to return to play on Thursday 5th February."

The process included receiving permission to play from the combined expertise of Independent neurologists in France and Ireland, the French Federation concussion review committee, the Racing Metro medical team and the Ireland Medical team.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was confident enough in his out-half's physical well-being to warn against seeing Sexton as a defensive weak point.

"I think it is the last thing he would want to think or he would want said about him," he said.

Thierry Dusautoir has attempted to downplay Les Bleus' determination to single out Sexton.

"I don't view him as a target," said the France skipper.