Cian Healy looking at 12 weeks of recovery after neck surgery
Ireland loose-head Cian Healy is looking at a twelve-week window of rehabilitation after neck surgery.
Genuine fear that Healy was looking at a doomsday scenario of six months out of the game with a disc problem has receded.
Healy was examined by a specialist on Thursday afternoon. It was then the decision was made for surgery on Friday, the concern being that Healy had suffered the same injury as Dan Cole from a bulging disc.
The England tight-head went under the knife in May 2014 "to correct a trapped nerve caused by a bulging disc".
It all came to a crisis point when Cole lost the power in his left arm when doing a bench press one morning at his club Leicester Tigers.
The very same experience of a loss in the power of his arm prompted surgery which took English team-mate Joe Launchbury out for five months this season.
Healy had been in a state of micro-management for a neck problem that flared up as early as the Champions Cup quarter-final against Bath, not, as suggested, on the end of a Bakkies Botha hit against Toulon.
It is understood the condition became so serious as to lead to the same loss of power in Healy's arm. The alarm bells sounded immediately.
This required an injection into his neck last Thursday week which was to be examined seven days later.
The seriousness with which Leinster and Ireland viewed the injury was reflected in how the operation was carried out as soon as possible after Healy returned from a short holiday in New York.
"He had his disc repaired. He was recovering well and the surgeon was very happy with how it went," said Leinster coach Matt O'Connor on Friday night.
What about the timeline for the World Cup? "It is one of those things. It shouldn't be an issue. But, you just have to wait and see how he progresses post-surgery."
The difference between Healy and the two England forwards is that the specialist was encouraged by what he saw when he opened up the Irish front rower.
It is no secret that Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip is Healy's best friend in the game.
"I obviously gave him a call when we found out the news," reported the Leinster captain.
"You never want to see your buddy get an op' done. It is just the nature of the game, unfortunately."
In the overall context of the season, the exit from the stage of Gordon D'Arcy and Shane Jennings further erodes Leinster's leadership for next season at a time when the cupboard will be bare during the World Cup.
"We're losing some very influential people in the changing room. Guys have to step-up and fill that void," he said.
"This year has been a big learning curve for a lot of the younger guys in the squad.
"For the whole season ahead, the two competitions and the internationals, when the players go away for the international window, the whole standard applies to those players (left)," said Heaslip.
Coach Matt O'Connor has had to suffer through what is definitely the worst season in his coaching career in comparison to his regular record as a winner.
This was reflected in the fact Leinster put out one of their most ineffective performances of the season in seeing off Benetton Treviso 10-0 at The RDS on Friday to claim fifth in the PRO12 League with an away date at Edinburgh left on their playing calendar.
"You like to think that those lessons and the hurt that's in the changing-room is going to be a really positive driver for us," said O'Connor.