O'Connell set to miss New Zealand tour


Rugby:Paul O’Connell is expected to be ruled out of Ireland’s three test tour to New Zealand next month after receiving a prognosis that the knee injury he damaged again during Munster’s victory over Ulster last weekend would keep him sidelined for between four and six weeks.

Ireland play the Barbarians at Kingsholm on Tuesday May 29th and then travel to New Zealand for tests against the All Blacks on consecutive Saturdays, starting at Eden Park on June 9th. O’Connell originally sustained the ligament damage to his left knee in the Six Nations Championship match against France at the Stade de France.

He was out for six weeks and made a huge effort to get back in time for Munster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Ulster at Thomond Park. He damaged the same joint again in a RaboDirect Pro12 game, which Munster won, last Saturday night in Limerick. His absence is a blow to the player but also to Ireland’s hopes of trying to record a first ever win over the All Blacks

Munster released a statement in which they confirmed that both O’Connell and hooker Damien Varley (ankle sprain) would miss Friday night’s league semi-final against the Ospreys at the Liberty stadium. It read: “O’Connell injured his left knee in the game against Ulster is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks while Varley suffered an ankle sprain but would be in consideration for the final should Munster win on Friday.”

Ronan O’Gara who has been out of action since sustaining a leg injury in the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster, is expected to train tomorrow and could be named in the Munster squad, which will be released tomorrow evening.