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Johnny Sexton to miss start of Ireland title defence


Setback: Johnny Sexton is out of Six Nations opener

Setback: Johnny Sexton is out of Six Nations opener

?INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Setback: Johnny Sexton is out of Six Nations opener

Johnny Sexton will miss Ireland's Six Nations opener against Italy in February after authorities in France stood him down until St Valentine's Day as a result of the succession of head injuries the fly-half has suffered.

The Racing Metro star has not played since being withdrawn during the second-half of the win over Australia at the Aviva Stadium last month after clashing with team-mate Rob Kearney and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

That was Sexton's third concussion on international duty in 2014, while he also suffered a broken jaw playing for Racing earlier this season.

He was left out of his club's European games this month, but reports emerged in France yesterday saying he has suffered nausea and headaches and has not participated in any contact drills at training.

Sexton has been assessed by the Top 14's medical committee who have decided he should not play for another six weeks.

The IRFU have yet to receive official notification of the situation and were not in a position to comment last night.

There was better news for tighthead prop Mike Ross who has signed a new one-year deal with the IRFU to continue his career beyond the World Cup.

It is believed the contract the 34-year-old has signed is reduced from his current deal, but is heavily incentivised.

Ross made his competitive debut for Leinster in 2009 and has gone on to make more than 100 appearances, while also winning 44 caps for his country.

"There is a huge amount of talent in the squad and it is an exciting time to be involved with Leinster and Ireland," said Ross.

"The next 12 months will be incredibly busy and challenging but also have the potential to be very rewarding too."

IRFU performance director David Nucifora said: "Mike has shown his value at both provincial and national level."

Leinster chief Mick Dawson added: "His performances illustrate his value to Irish rugby."

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