LEINSTER'S Richardt Strauss has been ruled out of rugby for 10-12 weeks with an ankle injury similar to that which sidelined Brian O'Driscoll.
Strauss was said to be "devastated" on hearing the heartbreaking news that he will not be able to challenge Rory Best for the starting position in the Six Nations championship.
He was diagnosed with what Ireland Team Manager Mick Kearney termed "a torn syndesmosis", more commonly known as a high ankle sprain. The hooker saw a specialist yesterday to determine whether he would undergo surgery or try to manage the problem through rehabilitation.
"Whether he has the operation or not, the recovery period is pretty similar. It is going to be very difficult for him to get back before the end of the season," said Kearney.
"It is very disappointing for Richardt as he had performed well in November. He was the starting hooker back then and he is obviously devastated at the news. He is a fantastic addition to the squad, both as a player and as a person."
Indeed, this has been "a terrible blow" for the South African front row forward who made such a dynamic impact for Ireland in his two international caps against South Africa and Argentina.
It comes hot on the heels of his recuperation from a knee injury which sidelined him for a month from mid-December.
The return-to-play date puts him on course for possible involvement in Leinster's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final away to London Wasps on the weekend of April 5/6/7.