Leinster to reveal extent of Seán O’Brien’s injury today
If surgery on shoulder is required he could miss rest of season
Seán O’Brien is led from the pitch during Saturday’s Pro12 game against Ulster. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.
With Seán O’Brien’s contractual talks with the IRFU, and unknown foreign clubs, still ongoing, the extent of the damage to his dislocated shoulder will be revealed by Leinster today.
Starting only his seventh game of the season, in the 19-6 defeat of Ulster on Saturday night, and just his fifth for Leinster, O’Brien was forced off in obvious discomfort after 53 minutes.
The 26-year-old is almost certainly out of Leinster’s crucial trip to Castres on Sunday week and the Ospreys game in Dublin five days later.
The opening Six Nations clash with Scotland, confirmed yesterday with the Wales and Italy games as sell-outs, is less than five weeks away.
The key issue is whether O’Brien requires surgery – which would probably rule him out for the season – or the usual six-week rehab, to regain his full range of shoulder motion.
It was put to Leinster coach Matt O’Connor that O’Brien had become a constant injury concern in recent times.
“Yeah, but we’ve all seen him play,” the Australia responded, in reference to the flanker’s attritional nature. “There is not much we can do about it. Blokes who carry the ball, blokes who are hard over the ball, are going to get busted. That’s unfortunately the situation we are in.”
Cian Healy is also facing a race against time to recover from ankle surgery before the Six Nations.
O’Connor disagreed that the Lions tour of Australia last summer had a direct impact on this O’Brien injury.
He felt the lack of game time might be a factor. “It is something we probably need to look at in relation to giving guys the opportunity to be a bit more battle-hardened in relation to coping with what is a pretty physical game.”
Another more recently established international, Luke Marshall, was also helped off the RDS pitch on Saturday, with a knee injury.
Marshall missed the end of last season and the summer tour of North America after sustaining three concussions in quick succession.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt stated after the November series that statistics showed a fifth of his player pool would be injured at any one time. Hence the need to cap 29 players over the three Test window.
Currently, of frontline players, Rory Best, Chris Henry, Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo are on the mend after surgery. Hooker stock is seriously depleted with Munster’s Mike Sherry out for the season along with Leinster’s Richardt Strauss.
However, with Leinster’s spread of backrow talent, O’Connor was not unduly perturbed by the prospect of losing O’Brien for a long stretch.
“Jamie and Seánie have proved over time, as has Shane Jennings, that they are world-class in that position. But the young guys, Rhys Ruddock, Kevin McLaughlin, Dominic Ryan and of course Jordi Murphy, are very good footballers . . . It’s probably the area we are best served, definitely.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Ferris is expected to see his short- term contract extended. The 28-year-old Ulster flanker has been plagued by knee and ankle injuries and has not played any rugby for over a year, winning his 35th and last cap for Ireland at Twickenham in March, 2012.