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Johnny Sexton is passed fit for second Test against the All Blacks

The Ireland captain was forced off with a head injury after 31 mins of last weekend's 42-19 first Test defeat, but he has since come through the HIA (head injury protocols) without any issues.

Big blow: Ireland captain Johnny Sexton receives treatment before leaving the field at Eden Park© Getty Images


Johnny Sexton has been passed fit to play in Saturday's second Test against the All Blacks. The Ireland captain was forced off with a head injury after 31 mins of last weekend's 42-19 first Test defeat, but he has since come through the HIA (head injury protocols) without any issues. Sexton failed HIA 1, which meant the medics could neither confirm nor clear him of experiencing a concussive incident. However, he has since passed HIA 2 and HIA 3, which means a concussion could not be confirmed and therefore, he was free to train at a rain-soaked North Harbour Stadium in Auckland today. According to World Rugby's guidelines: In stage 1, players who sustain head impact events with the potential for a concussion are identified by match officials, team doctors (TD), or independent match-day doctors (MDD). The identification is either by direct observation or on video review."

Sexton came through today's session unscathed, and is now expected to start the second Test in Dunedin. “Johnny is fine,” Ireland attack coach Mike Catt said. Asked if he could provide further clarity on the confusion around the HIA process, Catt responded: “No, I don’t work for World Rugby. Johnny is fit. He is fit, he has passed every test he needs to pass, so from our point of view he is good to go on Saturday. “He is a massive cog in there for us but I also think Joey (Carbery) came on and did well. We have got back up and again this is what touring is all about, our ability to adapt to whatever gets thrown at you. We have done that pretty well and we hope that continues.” Keith Earls' workload is being managed after the Munster winger started both games on tour, and as such, he sat out today's session. The Ireland squad will fly to Dunedin tomorrow, where the second Test will be played under a roof, meaning the inclement weather won't be a factor. 'Accuracy' is the main focus point for Andy Farrell's men this week following a sloppy display that saw them cough up cheap opportunities for the most dangerous side in world rugby. Catt believes that if Ireland tighten up certain aspects of their game, they can bounce back this weekend. “We created enough opportunities,” he maintained. “The theme really for this week has been how accurate we need to be to take our chances and we were not accurate enough. We know our processes, we know they work, we are getting there. “It is just a case of making sure we get there. The accuracy is a big one for me in terms of our kick, our breakdown, our passing accuracy has got to be spot on. We have got to go to another level for it to work for us. “I think set-piece has been a crucial part of it too to build momentum on the back of it. Again I think if we get a balance of our game right that we can cause problems. “We started off really, really well – the first half and then, at the start of second half as well, so when we get that momentum, we are very dangerous and it is just how we get to those positions so we can build momentum more often and a lot is down to the accuracy of how we do things.” Meanwhile, the All Blacks have been dealt a major blow ahead of the second Test, as veteran lock Sam Whitelock has been ruled out. Whitelock suffered delayed concussion and is a doubt for the remainder of the Series. New Zealand have also been hit with another Covid disruption, as Tupou Vaa’i is the latest player to test positive. That means the All Blacks are now without two locks for this weekend, and potentially the third Test. Patrick Tuipulotu has been recalled to the squad, having been granted approval to join the squad, following a season playing in Japan. “It's a big blow for them, to be honest," Catt said of the All Blacks losing Whitelock. "Sam has played some amazing games and he's a brilliant rugby player. But we are under no illusions, the next person stepping in is not that far behind Sam. “Again, it's us focusing on our processes and getting our accuracy right.”

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