Highlights on Off The Ball

07:00 AM-01:00 PM

Highlights on Off The Ball

Sexton should be lauded for being open about his injuries | Sunday Papers

Jonathan Sexton's ability to acknowledge when he is injured and ‘put his hand up’ should be l...


Sexton should be lauded for being open about his injuries | Sunday Papers

Jonathan Sexton's ability to acknowledge when he is injured and ‘put his hand up’ should be lauded, according to Dave McIntyre and Dr Katie Liston.

Sexton was left out of the British and Irish Lions touring squad to South Africa, due to what Warren Gatland described as question marks over his durability.

The Ireland captain has had a run of back luck with injuries, missing a lot of rugby over the past year due to head injuries in particular, the last one put him out of contact training for six weeks.

Speaking on the Sunday Paper Review, Dr Katie Liston, senior lecturer at Ulster University, as well as Virgin Media sports commentator Dave McIntyre believed that Sexton’s openness about his injuries, particularly in a Lions year, should be lauded.

“What is quite laudable for Sexton… [is he] played on for a few minutes in the last game where he was diagnosed with having some balance issues, and yet another concussion protocol,” Liston said.

“He should be lauded for that, because any player that position in the time coming up to Lions selection would be more than aware of the difficulties that there are with the concussion return to play protocols and the likely impact that that would have with him being declared full fit.

“Peter O’Reilly says that [Sexton] informed the Lions medical team that he would be fit if required, despite taking a six-week break from contact following that concussion against Exeter.

“That admission by Sexton is important. He has been described as being ‘emotional’, or ‘less good’ I think was the phrase, at hiding his frustration on being substituted.

“That level of focus on welfare is going to be important for him.”

Liston added that, as the rugby schedule becomes more and more condensed and full, players like Sexton will be seen as less and less durable.

“It is disappointing from a neutral perspective,” Liston said. “When you see the age profile of somebody like Sexton and arguably a few others that could have been considered.

“It does point to the extent to which the condensing of the rugby schedule now means that some of these older players are likely to have their durability questioned going into the future.”

Johnny Sexton Head Kncok Jonathan Sexton of Leinster is treated for an injury by Leinster head physiotherapist Garreth Farrell during the Heineken Champions Cup Pool Quarter-Final match between Exeter Chiefs and Leinster at Sandy Park in Exeter, England. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

While it is difficult to argue against the durability reason that Gatland put forward as to why he left Sexton out of his 37-man squad, McIntyre believes that acknowledging his injuries should still be seen as a step in the right direction for Sexton and rugby players in general.

“The reason Warren Gatland gave was down to durability, and didn’t really see much opposition to that point,” McIntyre said.

“You can’t escape the fact that Jonathan Sexton has had injuries with concussions, and two or three already this season.

“It does speak to the development and progress that we have made in the mindset of these players.

“In the past it was the last thing that you would do; to put up you hand and say that you are hurt.

“Maybe Sexton has set a really good example for younger players coming through that if you feel in any way vulnerable when it comes to a head injury, put your hand up and get yourself off that field.

“Life is too short; it is just not worth it with the difficulties that you might experience later in your life if you try and play the hard man and keep going in these situations.”

Download the brand new OffTheBall App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

Subscribe to OffTheBall's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.

Read more about

Dave McIntyre Dr Katie Liston Johnny Sexton Jonathan Sexton Rugby Sunday Papers Warren Gatland