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Wednesday 25 April 2018

Leinster facing up to body blow

Concussion means O'Driscoll may miss Heineken double-header

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. Picture: Niall Carson/PA
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. Picture: Niall Carson/PA

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL'S participation in Leinster's back-to-back Heineken Cup matches against Northampton Saints has been put in jeopardy after it was confirmed that he suffered a concussion against the All Blacks on Sunday.

The Ireland centre took an almighty hit from a front-on tackle on New Zealand's monster 19-stone second row Brodie Retallick in the 53rd minute.

It is the latest setback in an injury-interrupted final season of his career, coming hot on the heels of a calf strain – they are notoriously tricky to solve – which ruled him out of Leinster's first two rounds of the European Cup against the Ospreys and Castres Olympique.

In fact, O'Driscoll has played just a paltry 73 minutes for his club to this point of the season. He will definitely not be available to tackle the Scarlets in the PRO12 League on Saturday.

It now falls on the shoulders of the Leinster medical staff, the return-to-play protocols set down and O'Driscoll's own powers of recovery to see whether he will make it to Franklin's Gardens for December 7th and back to the Aviva Stadium for December 14th.

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor will also have to make do without the Ireland internationals that started in all three November internationals.

That instantly rules out number eight Jamie Heaslip, second row Devin Toner, tight-head Mike Ross and full-back Rob Kearney, who will surely need time to heal his rib.

Workaholic forwards Seán O'Brien and Cian Healy and inside centre Gordon D'Arcy must also be considered extremely doubtful with D'Arcy thought to have suffered a foot injury.

The sheer volume of effort expended by O'Brien and Healy had to be seen to be believed. It might be in their best interests to give the Scarlets a miss too.

Worse again, the trickle effect of players coming back into Leinster camp will undermine coach Matt O'Connor's plans to overcome Northampton.

In more bad news, Ireland hooker Rory Best has suffered a fracture to his forearm and was scheduled to see a specialist in Belfast yesterday. The hooker is now set to miss both of Ulster's Heineken Cup games against Treviso in December.

Jonathan Sexton made his way back to Racing Metro with a re-aggravated hamstring and Peter O'Mahony of Munster has a dead leg.

 

Cornerstone

Meanwhile, Ireland's long search for real back-up for Ross at the scrum cornerstone could be coming to an end with news that Martin Moore has been rewarded as Leinster's Player of the Month for October.

The 22-year-old has played 10 matches this season already, starting five of them, including both of the Heineken Cup matches.

Moore was strong again against Benetton Treviso in Italy on Sunday as Leinster moved up to third in the table with captain Rhys Ruddock nothing short of outstanding.

The hooker is now set to miss both of Ulster's Heineken Cup games against Treviso in December.

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