Monday 20 November 2017

Cullen looks to be putting Blues first as surgery rules him out for Ireland

LEINSTER captain Leo Cullen may have chosen club over country in opting to have an operation on his Achilles tendon that will rule him out of Ireland's Six Nations championship.

It is not clear whether Ireland coach Declan Kidney had told Cullen that there was no place for him in the Six Nations squad due to be announced at noon today.

He should be available to play through the pain barrier for Leinster at home to Montpellier in the last pool match at The RDS this Saturday.

The prognosis is that Cullen could be back in eight weeks' time, giving him the leeway to return for the Heineken Cup quarter-final on the weekend of April 6/7/8.

Ongoing problem

This has been an ongoing problem that has been managed by the Leinster medical staff, but the time has come to make best use of the break between now and the quarter-final of the Heineken Cup.

Thirty-four-year-old Cullen has been plagued by an Achilles injury for some time, playing through the pain barrier for Leinster at a time when new signings Steven Sykes and Damian Browne have struggled for fitness.

What is also apparent is that Donnacha Ryan has moved ahead of Donncha O'Callaghan in the pecking order at Munster and that Devin Toner has made significant strides this season.

Monstrous pack

In addition, Ulster second row Dan Tuohy has been blossoming in a monstrous pack of forwards up north and that Mike McCarthy is the standout forward for Connacht in the Heineken Cup.

This observation of form would have placed Cullen's squad place in jeopardy, especially with the need for Kidney to inject new blood into his squad at the beginning of what is a new four-year cycle towards the 2015 World Cup in England.

There is speculation that he will travel to a world-class clinic in Sweden to take care of a problem that could otherwise spell the end of his career.

It is only 15 months since Cullen returned from a complete shoulder reconstruction that planted doubts in his mind for the initial part of his time playing under coach Joe Schmidt.

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