Connacht flanker Jake Heenan out for five months

Hooker Sean Henry may have suffered cruciate knee ligament damage as province suffers spate of injuries

 Connacht’s Jake Heenan clutches his shoulder in the Dragons match. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht’s Jake Heenan clutches his shoulder in the Dragons match. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Two games and two wins into the season, and Connacht are once again struggling with injuries ahead of Friday’s first interprovincial against Leinster in the Guinness Pro 12.

Hooker Sean Henry has been ruled out with a knee injury, wing Danie Poolman is doubtful having suffered a head knock in Connacht’s win over Edinburgh, and openside flanker Jake Heenan, who injured his shoulder against the Dragons, will be out for up to five months.

Kiwi Heenan only returned to action two weeks ago having recovered from surgery on the same shoulder following the Saracens’ fixture last January. “Jake is scheduled for surgery on Wednesday (week) and recovery time is four to five months. It is a big loss for us.

“Sean Henry has a suspected rupture of the ACL, he underwent an MRI scan yesterday, and will see the surgeon later in the week.”

As a result Pat Lam will be forced to dip into his Academy to cover the front row, and has ruled out bringing in a new player for the back row.

“Cover for the hooker position is Jack Dinneen, a year one Academy player and Shane Delahunt, who is in the sub-Academy but was with us in Clermont. Both young boys and, with Tom McCartney not here [ITM Cup tied], Jason Harris-Wright [injured] and Sean Henry, it is a big blow to us, but again an opportunity for others to step up.

“At this stage at openside we have Willie Faloon and the Academy (players). If I was Toulon, yeah, I would be buying someone, but we are not . Everyone wants to have strength in depth. It affected us last year with Willie not being there for a long period. Jake had a big workload. It’s such a crucial position.

“There are only boys in the Academy. We saw last year Eoghan Masterson had to come out and play out of his position; it’s not his natural position. There is James Connolly, young Rory Maloney, and Sean O’Brien, and all are injured as well ,so at this stage we will use cover from the older guys, Eoin McKeon and John Muldoon. ”

Poolman, a try scorer against the Dragons, will follow return-to-play protocols for concussion and will undergo testing later in the week. However winger Matt Healy was back to full training having recovered from a hand injury and will be available for selection.

Lam says Connacht’s back-to-back wins has given the team confidence, but says Leinster are a quality side. ”

Look at what they did to Scarlets. Look at their side. That is the challenge, we have only two guys who have started internationals [John Muldoon and Robbie Henshaw} and that is the challenge . We know we are up against it, but we certainly won’t lie down.

“There is no doubt you put their squad up against ours, they should win every time, but if we perform well, we give ourselves a chance. Some guys have the advantage when they have played 50 tests — it’s easy — like riding a bike.

“So we know we have a young side, guys going into a game playing in front of a big crowd, it’s all part of the learnings, and we accept it because of that’s who we are.”

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