Marshall to miss Leinster showdown

Ulster centre has been stood down as he recovers from concussions sustained on Ireland duty

 Luke Marshall is helped from the pitch during Ireland’s final Six Nations match against Italy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Luke Marshall is helped from the pitch during Ireland’s final Six Nations match against Italy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 12:21

Concussions sustained by Luke Marshall during the Six Nations have ruled the Ulster centre out of Saturday’s crucial Rabo Pro 12 game against Leinster in Dublin.

The 22-year-old sustained a second head trauma within seven days against Italy in Rome on March 16th, following the blow that forced his withdrawal against France in Dublin on March 9th.

A concussed player is highly susceptible to repeat the damage if they return to action before fully recovering. One of the most notable cases is Australian international Berrick Barnes, who took it upon himself to stand down from all rugby for several months in 2011 after sustaining several bangs to the head.

Former Leinster hookers John Fogarty and Bernard Jackman have also spoken at length about repeat concussions sustained on a week-to-week basis at the tail end of their careers.

“Our return to play programme is usually three weeks so with cognitive testing and monitoring, Luke should be back for Saracens (on April 6th),” said Ulster spokesman Neil Brittain today.

Ulster’s three-week return to play programme is in contrast to Ireland’s decision to play Marshall and Brian O’Driscoll just seven days after both players were concussed against France.

The Irish management explained at the time that the players were strictly monitored under independent IRB protocols.

“We’re not responsible for what happens to players on Ireland duty. Luke is being fully rested this week but should be back for Saracens game,” Brittain added.

Ulster face Saracens in the Heineken Cup quarter final at Twickenham on Saturday week.

Some good news for coach Mark Anscombe ahead of this weekend is the return of several other injured players, with the exception of long term casualties Tommy Bowe (knee) and Stephen Ferris (ankle).

The toe ligament strain sustained by 21-year-old flanker/lock Iain Henderson, also against Italy, which was initially threatened to rule him out for the season has cleared up. Ruan Pienaar is expected back from ankle damage while Roger Wilson and Chris Henry have also resumed full training.