Serious concerns for O’Driscoll ahead of autumn internationals
Mike Ross faces a late fitness call for Leinster’s weekend game against Castres
Brian O’Driscoll. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Serious concerns surround the availability of tighthead prop Mike Ross and Ireland’s most capped player Brian O’Driscoll ahead of the autumn international campaign.
Ross, almost certainly, and O’Driscoll definitely won’t feature for Leinster against French Top 14 champions Castres at the RDS tomorrow (kick-off 3.40pm).
O’Driscoll’s torn calf was labelled a grade one tear, which usually takes seven to 10 days to heal, but he hasn’t played since picking up the injury in the wake of the Cardiff game on September 27th.
Joe Schmidt’s Ireland open their season against Samoa on November 9th with Australia and New Zealand coming to Dublin the following weekends.
Yesterday Leinster coach Matt O’Connor, when confirming the absence of O’Driscoll, Lote Tuqiri (hamstring) and Zane Kirchner (rested), refused to completely rule out Ross despite the 33-year-old pulling his hamstring just 18 minutes into last Saturday’s 19-9 victory over the Ospreys in Swansea.
“We’ll wait and see with Mike,” said O’Connor. “He has recovered, he is better but you don’t want to risk a re-strain. We’ll take that decision closer to kick-off and see where he gets to.”
Martin Moore came in and performed well at scrum time but O’Connor also confirmed that Irish international Michael Bent is also fit to return.
There is an agreement with Schmidt to allow international players play in next week’s Pro 12 match against Connacht before they go into national camp.
“It’s not about handing them over and wiping our hands of them because that’s not the way it works but their needs to be a bit of co-operation with that,” said O’Connor.
“The bottom line is we want them fit. If that means fit for us or fit for Ireland it doesn’t really matter. We want them fit as soon as possible.”
On O’Driscoll, O’Connor added: “He is still struggling with that calf but the medics are pretty confident he’ll be involved some time soon. It’s a little bit loose. Calf strains are calf strains. It is ticking the box day on day to see where he gets to. We hope he plays next week. He may or may not. It is yet to be determined.
“It is certainly not going to be months but who knows?”
Not in consideration
Kirchner is not in consideration due to his heavy schedule with South Africa during the Rugby Championship and selecting him would mean dropping a candidate for the Ireland back three.
Fergus McFadden and Dave Kearney were Rob Kearney’s wings against the Ospreys while Luke Fitzgerald replaced Brendan Macken with 11 minutes remaining. McFadden went to outside centre and Fitzgerald onto the wing.
“Zane is adjusting to Dublin and Leinster and everything else. There is no need with Rob and the back three going the way they are to rush him into anything but he will be involved really shortly,” said O’Connor.