‘The records are crystal clear’ – The All Blacks coach was surprised when Johnny Sexton was picked up for the second Test


Ian Foster insists World Rugby’s concussion logs are “crystal clear” in his camp as the All Blacks head coach was asked if he could explain why Sam Whitelock was sacked for 12 days and Johnny Sexton wasn’t.

alismanic lock Whitelock may miss the rest of the series with a delayed concussion after last week’s first Test, which saw Sexton forced off after 31 minutes with a head injury.

Although Sexton failed HIA 1, the Ireland captain has since passed HIA 2 and HIA 3, meaning concussion could not be confirmed and as such he was passed fit for the second Test in Dunedin on Saturday.

Foster declined to speculate on the specifics of Sexton’s fitness but it seemed the New Zealand coach was a little surprised the Ireland out-half would be in action this weekend.

“I can’t answer that question from their perspective because I don’t know the circumstances,” Foster said.

“What I do know is that the protocols are crystal clear from our perspective with Sammy.

“If it seems like you’ve been hit and then failed an HIA, you’re on a 12-day program. That’s pretty clear to us.”

When asked if Whitelock had a history of concussions, Foster continued:

“To be fair I’m not sure but he’s been around for a while so potentially. But I would say it would be pretty similar in both cases (Whitelock and Sexton).”

Pressing further on whether he was surprised Sexton was in the mix to play his side, Foster replied:

“Well, I just know that the protocols we’re going to use are pretty simple and clear to understand.”

Foster has made a position and personnel change in his starting team given Whitelock’s absence. Scott Barrett returns to the second row while Dalton Papalii moves to the back row.

Chiefs loosehead Aidan Ross and Highlanders scrum-half Folau Fakatava come on the bench for their potential Test debuts, while Will Jordan and Patrick Tuipulotu are recalled in the other changes to last week’s 23.

Brodie Retallick brushed off Ronan O’Gara’s suggestion that Whitelock’s absence would be worth 10-15 points to Ireland this weekend.

“He’s a good player (Whitelock), isn’t he,” said Kiwi Lock.

“He’s now the All Black with the second highest cap, so that’s a wealth of experience. But I’ll probably answer that on Saturday after the game.”

Foster acknowledged Whitelock’s significant loss and welcomed the potential influence of Papalii on the blindside.

“Disappointing on Sammy,” Foster added.

“Sammy’s omission was pretty easy, as was Tupous (Vaa’i). Disappointed in him he’s a formlock so it was a great opportunity but it is what it is.

“I think we hinted earlier that we were quite keen to play around with Dalton at 6 and effectively went to the guys who had a bit of time last week to apply last week’s learnings to this week.

“He (Papalii) is a different six, isn’t it, but it’s hard ground under a roof, we expect the game to be fast and I think Dalton is a very physical player himself, but he’s also very fast and offers a different skill set in this area. So it’s another great opportunity for us to do that.”

New Zealand (team plays Ireland on Saturday) – JBarrett; S Reece, R Ioane, Q Tupaea, L Fainga’anuku; B Barrett, A Smith; G Bower, C Taylor, O Tu’ungafasi; B. Retallick, S. Barrett; D papalii, S cane (captain), A savea. repetitions: Taukei’aho S, Ross A, Ta’avao A, Tuipulotu P, PG. Sowakula, F. Fakatava, R. Mo’unga, W. Jordan. ‘The records are crystal clear’ – The All Blacks coach was surprised when Johnny Sexton was picked up for the second Test

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