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‘Johnny is good, he is in fine spirits’ – Andy Farrell upbeat on Sexton’s chances of making second test against All Blacks

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2 July 2022; Ireland players, from left, Caelan Doris, Jonathan Sexton of Ireland and Tom O’Toole on the bench during the Steinlager Series match between the New Zealand and Ireland at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

2 July 2022; Ireland players, from left, Caelan Doris, Jonathan Sexton of Ireland and Tom O’Toole on the bench during the Steinlager Series match between the New Zealand and Ireland at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

2 July 2022; Ireland players, from left, Caelan Doris, Jonathan Sexton of Ireland and Tom O’Toole on the bench during the Steinlager Series match between the New Zealand and Ireland at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has not ruled Johnny Sexton out of next Saturday's second Test against the All Blacks in Dunedin.

Sexton was forced off after half an hour of Ireland's 42-19 defeat at Eden Park, with Farrell revealing afterwards that although the Ireland captain failed the initial part of his HIA (head injury assessment), he had since passed the second stage.

Sexton will continue to go through the HIA process before any decision is made on his potential return to training ahead of the second Test.

“Johnny is good, he is in fine spirits,” Farrell said.

“He has just passed his HIA 2, so he's got a HIA 3 to do in the next couple of days. He's in good form in there.”

Asked if Sexton had been ruled out of the second Test, Farrell responded: “No.”

Farrell was quizzed on why Sexton's didn't return to the action if had passed HIA 2, and he explained: “Because they tested him and deemed him not fit to go on because there's all different sort of tests that go on. You can stumble in your studs, you know, and not go off.

“But Johnny is fine in there. HIA 2 is passed, HIA 3 will hopefully be passed in a few days. If that happens, it's concussion not confirmed.”

Farrell confirmed that Dave Heffernan suffered concussion shortly after coming on in the second-half, which resulted in Dan Sheehan to have to return to the pitch.

The Connacht hooker is set to miss the second Test but Ulster's Rob Herring is due to return from injury.

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Ireland head coach Andy Farrell during the test defeat to New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell during the test defeat to New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell during the test defeat to New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand

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Farrell was left to rue a plethora of Ireland errors, which gifted the All Blacks a way back into a game that his side had started brightly in.

Ireland are now under pressure to rescue the Series, as attention quickly turns to next week's return game in Dunedin.

“Oh yeah, I can figure it out, I don’t need to figure it out. Watch the game,” Farrell said when asked if he could put his finger on Ireland's collapse.

“That’s what they do to you, isn’t it? You can be attacking lovely and think that you’re flowing pretty well and all of a sudden, you take your eye off the ball for one second and there’s an intercept if you’re not quite accurate enough or quick enough or aggressive enough at the wide breakdown.

"Before you know it you’re under your posts again.

“Some of the tries that they scored they didn’t have to work too hard for them and on the back of that, there was some decent rugby from us but you switch off for a second and you pay for it. The scoreline was obviously too big at half-time, wasn’t it?”

Try as they might, it wasn't until Bundee Aki's late consolation score that Ireland got over for a third try.

To New Zealand's credit, their last-ditch defence was superb, as they kept Ireland at bay for large parts of the second-half to stretch their remarkable unbeaten record to 47 games at Eden Park.

“I thought we brought them down pretty well from time to time,” Farrell added.

“I think we deserve a little pat on the back for that, for getting at least five opportunities to score.

“Now obviously we’ll have a look at reasons why we actually didn’t convert but there was a few held up, wasn’t there?

"A few that were deemed short, or whatever. And a knock-on, or a fumble, the grounding wasn’t right on Joey (Carbery), apparently. I’ve seen them given before but anyway, that’s a different story.

“I thought we created quite a bit actually but ultimately, like I said before the game, you’ve got to score points against the All Blacks. There’s no doubt about that."

Meanwhile, Farrell confirmed that Stuart McCloskey is on his way to New Zealand to replace his Ulster centre partner James Hume, who has been ruled out of the tour with a groin injury.


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