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‘Batman’ mask gone for Johnny Sexton

IRELAND’S Johnny Sexton discarded his ‘batman’ mask for good yesterday – and doesn’t know where it might turn up again.

Sexton took a full part in training without the mask at The Campus, Ireland’s warm-weather base in Quinta do Lago – the first time he has gone without protection since he had facial surgery early last month.

“It’s in the hairline,” smiled Sexton, showing a small scar on his scalp above his left ear. “I didn’t want to ruin my good looks!”.

Sexton pointed to the area around his left upper cheekbone, below the temple, to show where he was injured against Connacht on January 1.

“The surgery was to make sure it’s aligned and then it heals away,” said the Leinster and Ireland skipper. “It’s amazing really. But I did research on it immediately.”

Sexton couldn’t sleep on the night of the injury, a combination of worry that he could miss the start of the Six Nations and also because of the pain.

So instead he looked into how quickly he could return.

“I did research on basketball players that had played a week later, seven days later, with the mask,” he said.

“They were allowed. We’re not allowed wear masks.

“So once I’d read things like that and spoke to forward doctors, and they were pretty optimistic and positive that I’d be back in no time.

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“I just took it off today, because I’m not allowed wear it on Saturday.

“It’s all been good. Mack Hansen took my mask. I don’t know what he’s going to do with it – he just took it!”.

Sexton has confidence that the work he has put into training will allow him to hit the ground running against Wales.

“Well, we’ll see on Saturday,” he said. “You’ve got to commit to training, you’ve got to train hard, train like each day you train is a match so you can make a mistake and learn.

“You can make mistakes that are with proper intent and learn from it properly.

“If you go out and train half-arsed you won’t learn anything. So that’s one thing I’ve been able to do over the years, to commit to training properly because I want to. I love training so we’ll see how we go on Saturday.

“I’m sure the pace of the game will be tough, I’ll be blowing at times – we all will.

“It will shock everyone, not only me who has only played once since November. So we’ll see how we go.”