LEINSTER HAVE BEEN dealt a blow ahead of their Champions Cup quarter-final against Wasps in eight days’ time, with Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney ruled out.
Both players have undergone what the province calls “minor procedures” on injuries and they will now miss the next few weeks of action.
Heaslip was named to start Ireland’s win over England in the Six Nations last weekend, but pulled out at a late stage after suffering an injury during the warm-up.
Heaslip’s injury was initially described by Ireland as a “rolled ankle,” before head coach Joe Schmidt later clarified that the number eight had suffered a strain in his upper hamstring during the warm-up.
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen today confirmed that Heaslip is now sidelined after receiving treatment on a disc issue in his lower back.
“It’s hard to be definitive with timelines,” said Cullen, when asked about the expected recovery timeframe. ”Jamie just had a procedure done with his back this morning. He had a disc issue, so they come on quite quickly.
“He saw a specialist, saw someone again yesterday and had a procedure done this morning. So that rules him out for the next number of weeks. When we get a report we’ll find out exactly how long that will be, but it sounds like they’re reasonably standard procedures.”
The timeframe is a little clearer in Kearney’s case, with Cullen penciling the fullback in to return in four to six weeks after surgery on his knee.
“We’ve just been managing him,” said Cullen. “He had seen a few different people, had a procedure during the week after seeing a specialist on Tuesday, I think. That’s probably four to six weeks for his knee, so we’ll see how he comes through that.”
Leinster will be hopeful that the loss of the influential Heaslip and Kearney does not unduly affect them in their home quarter-final against Wasps at the Aviva Stadium.
“It’s definitely a loss, if you think what’s coming up, but that’s the nature of the business we’re in,” said Cullen. “It’s another chance for the guys to come in.
“The experience they have will hopefully stand to the group, particularly as you’re into the business end of the season now.
It’s never an ideal time, but we’ll see how they are, see how they come through and hopefully get them back as quickly as possible.”
The timing of the injuries is bad for both players on an individual level too, with Warren Gatland set to name his Lions squad to travel to New Zealand on 19 April.
Cullen also confirmed that back row Jack Conan is missing tomorrow’s Guinness Pro12 clash with Cardiff Blues at the RDS due to “a tight calf.” Having the dynamic number eight fully fit for the meeting with Wasps is even more important with Heaslip ruled out.
- Additional reporting by Sean Farrell
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