Hines to leave big Blues void
Scot's departure to pose problem for Leinster coach
Leinster are about to announce the departure of their Scotland international second row Nathan Hines for France, leaving a huge hole in the middle of their pack.
Hines is currently being monitored by Scotland team doctor James Robson for a knee injury he picked up as a second-half replacement for Leinster against Cardiff Blues in the Magners League on Saturday as he prepares to do battle with a cluster of club colleagues in the Six Nations on Sunday.
It is known Hines -- who is probably set for a move to Stade Francais -- wanted a two-year contract extension, while Leinster put a one-year deal on the table for the 35-year-old, knowing that he will be at the World Cup for the first chunk of the season.
At the start of the season, Leinster looked well-stocked to soldier forth with their second row staffing. Since then, Ireland international Trevor Hogan has been forced to retire from the game and Hines will follow him out the door at close of season.
Worse again, Ireland international Ed O'Donoghue has failed to fire on transferring from Ulster. He has fallen so far down the ranks to be listed as a replacement on the British & Irish Cup squad.
Argentina international Mariano Galarza, 24, has not yet exploded onto the scene. Devin Toner, 24, seems to have stalled in his progress. Club captain Leo Cullen, 33, cannot go on forever. Suddenly, Leinster look light where they should be at their heaviest.
This means Leinster will have to get moving in their pursuit of a top international second row capable of playing it the Joe Schmidt way. This will be a difficult assignment given the spending power of French clubs.
In terms of the Six Nations, Ireland coach Declan Kidney has called in eight players, including Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble, to join his squad of 22 in the build-up to Scotland at Murrayfield.
Leinster's Rhys Ruddock, Munster's Tony Buckley, Denis Hurley, Mick O'Driscoll and Donnacha Ryan and Connacht's Gavin Duffy will also be involved without holding much chance of match day involvement.
Scotland coach Andy Robinson has been hit with the triple blow of losing full-back Hugo Southwell (facial injury), wing Rory Lamont (leg injury) and Joe Ansbro (concussion) for the clash.
Robinson commented: "We have made the decision now that all three of our injured backs will miss this weekend's international so that brings clarity to our preparations.
In addition, half a dozen forwards were prevented from training yesterday because they required further medical assessment. Jon Welsh (ribs), Robert Harley (hip), Ross Rennie (toe), Hines (knee) Richie Vernon (calf) and Doug Hall (shoulder) will be monitored closely.
"Our medical staff will continue to treat our injured forwards. Everybody was hurting after the display against Wales, but we must now focus on the challenge that Ireland bring. There's absolute determination to bounce back against them at Murrayfield on Sunday," warned Robinson.