Injury rules Heaslip out of England clash as Pape is cited
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip has been ruled out of the Six Nations showdown with England on Sunday week.
The number eight has been diagnosed with what an IRFU statement described as "fractures of the transverse process of three vertebrae" to the lower part of his back.
Apparently, the injury sounds worse than it actually is, given how there is an outside chance of Heaslip making it back for the assignment against Wales at The Millennium Stadium on March 14.
There is no structural damage to the integrity of the spine and the treatment is similar to that of a soft-tissue injury.
However, there must remain the chance Heaslip will miss out on all three of Ireland's remaining Six Nations internationals at home to England and away to Wales and Scotland.
Based on the Italian match, Leinster's Jordi Murphy (pictured) could be in line for a recall when England come to town. Unlike Ian Keatley and Tommy O'Donnell, the 23-year-old multi-purpose back rower avoided being dropped out of the Ireland squad against France and replaced Heaslip in the 60th minute.
The fallout from Pascal Pape's kn-ee into Heaslip's back gathered pace yesterday with the news that and Pape has been cited for the 52nd-minute incident, Heaslip playing on for eight minutes.
The France second row has been ordered to appear in front of an Independent Disciplinary Committee later this week by match commissioner Stefano Marrama.
The knee into Heaslip's back is incorporated in Law 10.4(a) for Punching or Striking which states: 'A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).'
Munster loose-head James Cronin had a minor knee procedure last week following an injury sustained in the Italy game.
He is recovering well and has been released back to Munster to continue his road back to full-fitness.