Friday 19 July 2019

Sexton targeted

Johnny Sexton is helped to his feet by Peter O’Mahony after receiving ‘a bit of a stamp on the head’ at Murrayfield. Photo: Brendan Moran
Johnny Sexton is helped to his feet by Peter O’Mahony after receiving ‘a bit of a stamp on the head’ at Murrayfield. Photo: Brendan Moran

Joe Schmidt hopes Johnny Sexton will shake off a head injury in time for the trip to Italy after the outhalf failed a HIA and was replaced by Joey Carbery.

Schmidt downplayed the extent of Sexton's: "Johnny failed a HIA, he just banged his head in the build-up to our second try, he fell pretty heavily. He seems to be doing quite well now though, so we're hopeful he'll be okay for the next game (v Italy on Feb 24).

"He copped a stamp at one point; I don't even think it was a Scottish foot, I think it was one of our guys who tripped over him. He got two knocks so they were cumulative, and he has a swollen ankle, but that's just swelling and he should bounce back from that pretty quickly."

Admitting Ireland expected Scotland to single out Sexton and attempt to shut him down physically, Schmidt insisted that worked to the visitors' advantage. Sexton's cute inside ball sent Jacob Stockdale haring clear for Ireland's second try.

Schmidt was phlegmatic on Scotland targeting Sexton, replying: "It was going to happen, and Johnny probably knew he was only going to play 20 minutes so tried to cram it all into one quarter! That pass release for Jacob's try was perfect, the guy maybe could have got to Jacob if not for that intent in trying to get to Johnny. So sometimes that works to our advantage."

Schmidt was pleased and relieved to report greater buoyancy and urgency in Edinburgh. "There was a rise in temperature, definitely a rise in energy, from last week," he said. "Now we've got to make sure we kick on from here."

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