Hearing Girvan Dempsey speak today, it sounded like Ireland and Leinster aren't on the same page regarding Jonny Sexton, when they really should be.
Today, Leinster coach Girvan Dempsey said that the province hoped Jonathan Sexton would return for them "next week", perhaps hoping that Sexton would be available for selection for Leinster's European Cup clash against Northampton on 9th December.
Dempsey said of the out-half:
Once he meets his return-to-play protocol, ticks all his boxes in terms of criteria in terms of running, kicking, changing direction...he becomes available for selection. We're hopeful that could be next week.
Here's Dempsey talking to Sinead Kissane of TV3.
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In quotes carried by the42.ie among others from after the Australia game on Saturday, Joe Schmidt said that Sexton taking a "window of time to really make sure that he can be more robust" was one of the options he intended discussing with Leinster and the other coaches involved with Ireland. It wasn't really clear how long Schmidt intended such a break to be, and after the New Zealand game the week before he had said of Sexton:
I don’t think putting him out of the game for a prolonged period is the solution.
But the fact Joe Schmidt thinks it is well worth having a "discussion" about the prospect of giving Sexton a break from the game does contrast greatly with Dempsey's apparent determination to get the 31-year old back as soon as possible.
Dempsey said that he was "not aware" of any possibility that Sexton might be given a break.
Clearly both province and country care first and foremost about the welfare of the player. But while it is more commonly football which sees the club-country conflict rear its head (see James McCarthy), there does seem to be a genuine lack of communication here regarding Sexton which while undoubtedly a rarity is nonetheless something to be cautious over.
In such a physically demanding sport, a return too soon for Sexton could obviously have a seriously detrimental effect on his career so it's vital that Leinster and Ireland get on the same page regarding his state of health. For the good of Leinster and Ireland, yes - but most importantly for the good of Sexton.