Six Nations

Family comes first for Ireland captain Sexton after latest head blow

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Johnny Sexton. (Irish Rugby - Twitter)
Johnny Sexton. (Irish Rugby - Twitter)

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton said his priority is his three children and wife and not playing through injury ahead of Sunday's Six Nations match with France.

The 35-year-old playmaker is undergoing return-to-play protocols after he was taken off in Sunday's 21-16 defeat by Wales after suffering a knock to his temple.

On Tuesday, the neurologist who recommended Sexton be stood down from rugby for 12 weeks in 2014 due to repeated brain injuries, Jean-Francois Chermann, said the Ireland medical staff had to make it clear to his former patient the risks he ran by playing.

Chermann, who advised Sexton during his time at Racing 92, then apologised for the comments on Wednesday.

Sexton was furious about the remarks as he thought doctor/patient confidentiality was a global principle.

"Well I do all the tests that are in place and if I don't get through them I won't play," Sexton said on Wednesday.

"I'm a dad of three and a husband and I'm not going to go and be stupid. I'm not going to risk anything and no-one in this environment will risk it."

Sexton said had never been forced to feature for his country against his will, despite being seen as the side's talisman.

"I've never felt any pressure to play after a knock on the head," he said.

"It was a blow at the weekend, and a good blow and the fact the docs were out so quick is a sign of how good they are.

"They don't let you get up too quickly and tell you not to move.

"So look, it is what it is and we'll see how I go over the next 48 hours."

Different times

Sexton said duty of care to players in the sport has progressed considerably in the past decade.

A group of ex-players, including England's 2003 World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson, are exploring legal action against World Rugby, England's Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union after being diagnosed with neurological conditions.

The basis of the claim is the governing bodies failed to provide sufficient protection from the risks caused by concussion.

"It's very hard for me because I don't want to go against those guys," said Sexton.

"The times, the way we're looked after now, is very different.

"Some of the stories that have come out of guys playing on Saturday and getting knocked on the head then playing on Tuesday and getting a knock on the head, coming in on Thursday and getting knocked on the head, playing Saturday, that doesn't happen anymore."

Sexton said training is a prime example of decreasing contact.

"There's always a little bit of contact in training but it's rarely full contact. We're already reducing all those times.

"Back in the day, after the knock I got on Saturday, maybe I would have been thrown out there today (Wednesday) for example and then you're susceptible to something else.

"I feel for the guys, I really do, the guys that are struggling now."

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