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16th Dec 2017

Leo Cullen provides Johnny Sexton injury update but is coy on Ross Byrne and Sean Cronin HIA questions

Jack O'Toole

Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen said that fly-half Johnny Sexton is fine after leaving Saturday’s win over the Exeter Chiefs with a head injury.

Sexton was removed from play in the second minute and did not return after failing his Head Injury Assessment.

Cullen said that he was fine, and that he was giving advice to Ross Byrne at half-time, who coincidentally also received a significant blow to the head after a heavy first-half collision with Chiefs scrum-half Nic White.

Both players were removed from play but eventually returned to the pitch after Byrne passed a Head Injury Assessments while White was classed as a blood substitute.

However, Byrne still appeared to be quite groggy upon his return but he ultimately finished the game.

When asked if he had a chance to talk to Byrne, Cullen said that it was more of a neck injury the fly-half sustained.

“I had a good chat to him at half-time, and Johnny was talking to him at half-time as well, it was more of a bang on his neck which I think was causing him more problems.

“I still thought he managed the game well under difficult circumstances so amazing experience for him.

“We talked about it last year before the round three game against Northampton, he only got registered that week.

“He came on after 15 minutes and it was a very different game to what this one played out to be. In terms of his development, and where he’s going, I thought he did very, very well.”

When asked if Sean Cronin should have gone for a Head Injury Assessment after the hit he took in his attempted tackle on flanker Don Armand, Cullen said that Cronin received a ‘bang in the tooth’.

“I didn’t thinks so no because I think he got a bang in his tooth,” said Cullen.

“He’s missing his front tooth that’s all it was, he needs a trip to the dentist more than anything else.”

Despite his guarded answers concerning both Byrne and Cronin, Cullen did offer his opinion on Cian Healy’s yellow card for a forearm to the face of hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.

“Players need to be very careful when they enter into those contact areas,” said Cullen.

“In many ways it was innocuous but once you make contact to the head you need to be able to deal with the consequences.

“I think a yellow card is probably the right result, probably the right outcome I think, but that’s just my opinion.

“There’s different opinions on these matters but we discuss them during the week as well. Players are well aware, I don’t think there’s any force in it.”

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