It's hard to imagine that any more could have been made about Johnny Sexton's concussions. Ireland's star out-half was ordered to take a mandatory four-month break from rugby after four head knocks in a 12-month period, and every single contact the player takes since his return more than a year ago has been analysed and over-analysed in regards to his potential health.
Collective breaths are held when he stays down, and huge outcries from all corners when he's hit cheaply. Sexton himself doesn't mind being targeted, in fact he relishes it. What he doesn't like is the amateur doctor's diagnosing him with concussions and thinking his career is almost over.
The Leinster out-half decided to address the issue by talking about what actually happened with those head knocks for him to be stood down for so long, and how that's benefitted his career in the long-term:
No one wants to take 12 weeks off when you feel you can recover. In hindsight, it was a great thing to do for me, for my career long-term. I haven’t had any problems since, despite what gets reported.
Sometimes you can get a bang on the head and other times you can have serious concussion so I have said I have had two bad ones. Then other people said I had four and had to take a break, but two of the ones that happened weren’t that bad. The neurologist knew that but still felt that they were substantial enough to include them within the remit.
When you read it like that, it's easy to see his frustration - which clearly effected him more than we would have realised:
All the stuff that was reported really wasn’t true and it creates a perception about you. I suppose if I was out of contract, clubs wouldn’t even consider talking to me last year with all the stuff that was in the papers. They wouldn’t have made any offers. The people don’t consider that.
They just throw out that ‘this guy suffers from concussion’. I don’t. I had one issue that season and it was put to bed and I haven’t had any since. It’s doesn’t help that people give an opinion without any expert . . . and it’s not just some media, it is ex-players. It is frustrating and it is disappointing. They could pick up the phone and ask me but sometimes they don’t want the answer before they go on about it.
Sexton's hoping that should put the concussion worries on the back-burner, and maybe it might. Ireland and Leinster could use him as long as he wants to play.
Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE