O'Brien back in training after recovering from hip operation


Seán O’Brien returned to Leinster training yesterday with the province’s fitness team hopeful the Carlow backrower will feature in Glasgow on Friday night. It would be a timely return for coach Joe Schmidt as Rhys Ruddock, another to recently return from the same hip surgery, has been called up to the Ireland camp this week.

O’Brien has not played since the third Test against New Zealand on June 23rd.

“Seán O’Brien is back on the pitch so we’ll see how he reacts today and Wednesday as well,” said Leinster manager Guy Easterby. “What is important for someone like him, out for such a long time, we must be 100 per cent sure he is right for the game. It would be crazy to jeopardise what has been a really strong recovery by him.”

O’Brien (25), Ruddock (22), Eoin O’Malley (24) and Dave Kearney (23) are the four most recent Leinster players to require surgery to correct a hip problem, known as femoral acetabular impingement, which has been increasingly identified as an injury in rugby, ice hockey, American football, basketball and soccer. It is the second most prevalent injury in US collegiate sport.

“The most commonly replaced joint in the body is the hip, so we were seeing these massive patterns of wear and tear in this area,” explained Garreth Farrell, Leinster’s head of physiotherapy.

“A lot of people involved in rugby from their 40s onwards were having hip replacements. Before there wasn’t really a solution but now we are able to identify the early changes and do something about it.”

Repetitive trauma

The problem is simulated by repetitive trauma to the labrum area of the hip joint. “Most operations are arthroscopic so they are not massively evasive,” Farrell explained. “The labrum is sown back up . . . The role of the labrum is it works as a joint sealant, with the capsule, so if there is a hole in that you’ve got exposure where the fluid in the joint can leak out.”

The operation’s main aim is to halt the onset of arthritis in the hip area.

Meanwhile, Shane Jennings and Kevin McLaughlin were also training with Leinster yesterday, giving a strong indication of the backrow make-up this week. Jordi Murphy is next in the pecking order, with Ireland under-20s flanker Conor Gilsenan another option having just returned from an ankle injury.

A more pressing problem for Schmidt is the frontrow absentees, as four props and two hookers are either with Ireland (Seán Cronin, Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Mike Ross and Michael Bent) or in Heinke van der Merwe’s case, with the touring Springboks.

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