Robbie Henshaw to miss Connacht’s trip to Brive

Pat Lam confirms that Ireland star’s hand injury has still to fully heal

Connacht’s  Robbie Henshaw  goes through a stretching session  at  Kingfisher Sports Club in Galway. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw goes through a stretching session at Kingfisher Sports Club in Galway. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Ireland international Robbie Henshaw will miss Connacht’s crunch European Challenge Cup fixture away to Brive on Saturday.

The Ireland centre had been expected to return to action against the French side in preparation for the forthcoming Six Nations, but a scan revealed his hand had not healed sufficiently.

“The CT scan showed it had not fully healed, so he has been advised to take one or two more weeks – he may be available next week, hopefully,” says Connacht coach Pat Lam.

There is good news, however, for prop Denis Buckley who has been fully cleared by his surgeon. The Ireland squad member, who had suffered a high ankle sprain in Connacht’s win over Munster, had resumed partial training last week. As a result Buckley has been re-registered for Europe in place of Academy prop Saba Meunargia.

Also available this week is number eight Eoin McKeon (elbow), while Darragh Leader (hand) has returned to training, but remains “touch and go”.

Three players – lock Andrew Browne, scrumhalf Kieran Marmion and centre Craig Ronaldson – have been sidelined following Connacht’s last-minute Pro 12 defeat to Scarlets.

Marmion suffered a hip pointer, while Ronaldson took a shoulder knock, and both will be monitored and fitness tested later in the week. Browne is expected to be out of action for up to six weeks after an MRI revealed an AC fracture.

Lam says Browne is a big loss considering Quinn Roux and Ben Marshall remain on long-term injuries, and Lam will now look to Aly Muldowney, and youngsters Ultan Dillane and Danny Qualter, to fill that position.

Connacht head to France on the back of four defeats, having slipped in the Pro 12 table to fourth, but Lam says while happy where they sit in the league, they are not satisfied.

“If you look at our games, we could easily have been undefeated. All those games we were right in there – the bounce of a ball, a decision here or there, and things completely change. But with that in mind we know we are not far off, and that could easily change. We are still in the top four. The one thing we do is play everyone again – except Cardiff – which is exciting.”

And having lost to Newcastle in the Challenge Cup, Connacht now need to win in France to almost guarantee quarter-final qualification.

“We know that, and it’s tough. They [Brive] had a week off from the Top 14 and they are going really well. They are a massive team, probably the biggest we have played all year, but we are embracing the challenge. We know if we win, the outcome will get us closer to qualification, and there is a big question mark if we don’t.”

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