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Heaslip and Lowe left out of Leinster’s European squad

Number eight’s ‘complicated’ back injury could keep him out until January

Jamie Heaslip have been left out of the Leinster squad for the European Champions Cup. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Leinster have left Jamie Heaslip and James Lowe off their Champions Cup panel. On return to training three weeks ago, Heaslip suffered a relapse to his “complicated” back injury while Lowe only arrives in Dublin after the Tasman Makos’ New Zealand’s provincial championship concludes.

Heaslip, who turns 34 in December and has been sidelined since March, is facing at least 10 months out of the game.

As it stands, he cannot play in Europe until round five in January. A possible loophole, should he regain fitness, is Leinster could delist a player on or before the Tuesday of each pool game.

The number eight’s 100th and last Test match was against Wales in Cardiff on March 10th. A week later he pulled out of the warm-up before the England game. What was initially reported as a “rolled ankle” morphed into a hamstring and then a back issue.

Leinster’s backrow options remain vibrant. The pecking order at number eight appears to be Jack Conan, Rhys Ruddock, Max Deegan and Caelan Doris although Seán O’Brien could muscle his way into the discussion.

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen is due to speak on Thursday about the Heaslip situation before Edinburgh’s visit to the RDS.

“I actually don’t have an answer for people,” said Heaslip last week.

“It’s pretty complicated what I have done. I am literally taking it week by week.”

Rob Kearney, whose torn hamstring requires six weeks rehabilitation, and Dan Leavy, unavailable for eight weeks due to an ankle problem, are further losses to the Leinster ranks ahead of Munster’s visit to the Aviva stadium on October 7th before Montpellier come to Dublin for the opening European tie.

However, both Kearney and Leavy have been included in Cullen’s European squad.

“Jamie is going to get there,” said senior coach Stuart Lancaster on Monday. “It is the not knowing that is frustrating for him. But it is an injury in the back that you don’t want to take any risks with so we want to make sure he is 100 per cent right before he comes back.

“But he will be back.”

When that will be appears to be a mystery even to the Leinster medics.

Conan started all three Test matches during Ireland’s tour of the USA and Japan last June. Munster’s CJ Stander would be the 25-year-old’s main rival for the jersey come November internationals against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.