Sexton ‘mad keen’ to make Ireland return

Jonathan Sexton leaves the field with a head injury in December’s game against Australia. He will miss the start of the Six Nations campaign.

With just over a month to go until the start of the 2015 RBS Six Nations, Ireland out-half Jonathan Sexton has spoken for the first time about the concussion injury that has kept him sidelined since November’s memorable Guinness Series victory over Australia.

The Racing Metro star was a guest on Newstalk’s Off The Ball programme last night (which featured his former team-mate Brian O’Driscoll alongside Ger Gilroy in the presenter’s chair), and now that he is halfway through his projected 12-week rehabilitation period, he is beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m feeling a lot better. This is week seven of the 12 weeks I’ve been told to take. I’ve been feeling better every week. I’ve been training harder every week,” Sexton explained.

“It’s around this week when the doctor told me I’d be perfect and mad keen to get back into it, and I am. But he told me I’d have to be patient. It’s probably not one of my best traits, already I’m itching to get back involved in the big games coming up in Europe with Racing, which is not going to be possible.

“Obviously leading into the Six Nations I’m keen to get back in, but I have to take the 12 weeks. It feels like a punishment, but it’s for my own good.”

From an outsider’s perspective, this 12-week timescale would suggest that Sexton’s condition is a serious one, but the 29-year-old revealed that his symptoms were relatively mild in nature.

A particularly heavy tackle from France’s Mathieu Bastareaud in last year’s Six Nations began a cycle of concussions, though, and for his own health and well-being, it was decided that he should be taken out of the firing line.

“Even though the symptoms weren’t that bad, I think it was just a number of concussions that I had built up since the French game at the end of the Six Nations last year when I got a bad hit from [Mathieu] Bastareaud. They wanted to break a cycle more so than how severe my symptoms were.

“My symptoms weren’t that severe. I did have mild symptoms a couple of weeks after, which wasn’t obviously very encouraging. It was just trying to break that cycle for my own care and health, and make sure it doesn’t become an issue going forward.

“Because if the doctor had let me play and I got another one, then he would have been looking at telling me to take five or six months off, and then that’s not ideal for anybody.”

Ireland’s opening game against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico will come a week too soon for the Rathgar native, but provided his recovery goes according to plan, he should be available for the crunch home encounter with France on February 14.

With Joe Schmidt hoping to launch a successful defence of their Six Nations crown, it is possible that Sexton may be kept in reserve for this fixture, but he is determined to enter the Ireland training camp in the best shape possible.

“I’ll probably have to do a few contact sessions to be considered. My return to play date is 14 February, which is obviously the France game. If I want to be considered for that, I’d have to do some contact in training.

“Even then, I don’t know if the coaches will consider me, having not played for 12 weeks. But I’ll let them make that decision. I’m trying to use my time to the best that I can, and make sure that I come back in the best shape possible,” Sexton added.


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