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SIX NATIONS

Sexton whiplash comments a "sideshow" says Rory Best

The Munster hooker is fully focused on Saturday’s showdown at Twickenham and won’t get dragged into a debate about head injuries following Eddie Jones’ declarations.

Sexton whiplash comments a "sideshow" says Rory Best

Ireland captain Rory Best said comments about the health of fly-half Jonathan Sexton from England coach Eddie Jones were a "sideshow" ahead of Saturday's Six Nations international at Twickenham.

Jones questioned whether Ireland were right to field key playmaker Sexton this weekend after team management revealed he had suffered a "whiplash injury" during the defending Six Nations champions 10-9 defeat by France last time out.

And England's Australian boss even went as far to say as Sexton's parents "would be worried" regarding his long-term health.

This is a particularly touchy subject for all concerned with Ireland as they dislike suggestions that they are risking the welfare of Sexton, who was stood down for 12 weeks in 2014 after four concussions inside 12 months.

"We're not worried about that," said Best of Jones's remarks. "We've got to make sure we're as close to perfect as we can be.

"Everything else apart from the rugby is a sideshow that we don't want to get involved in," the hooker added at Twickenham on Friday.

"All we know is that Johnny's a quality player.

"France were criticised by some pundits for the way in which they 'targeted' Sexton but Jones said such tactics had always been a part of rugby and no player could expect special protection.

Shutting down the opposition fly-half has long been regarded as a staple move in rugby union but Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek said Sexton would be ready for any rough stuff that came his way this weekend.

"Johnny's probably one of the hardest-working and most physical players around," Feek insisted.

"He might not necessarily look it, but he's very strong.

"Occasionally he'll get his head up or shoulder down and make a big hit. Whatever's said elsewhere, you don't want to be distracted by any of that.

"For us, we don't target players because there's not enough time to worry about that anyway."

Ireland, bidding for a third straight Six Nations title, have yet to win this season after opening the Championship with a 16-16 draw against Wales.

England, who were last crowned Six Nations champions in 2011, head into what will be Jones's home debut as Red Rose coach having won their first two matches under the former Australia and Japan boss following away successes against Scotland (15-9) and Italy (40-9).