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McGrath's knee injury may leave Leinster facing Champions Cup headache

The scrum-half was replaced during Leinster’s win over Scarlets this afternoon.

McGrath hobbled off shortly after scoring a try earlier.
McGrath hobbled off shortly after scoring a try earlier.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ryan Bailey reports from the RDS 

LEINSTER’S HARD-EARNED victory over Scarlets this afternoon may have come at a significant cost.

Luke McGrath will have a scan on the knee problem he sustained during the 20-13 Pro14 win at the RDS, and if the damage proves to be serious, Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster may be facing into a serious injury conundrum.

The scrum-half was replaced shortly after scoring his side’s third try and will have the injury assessed further tomorrow, with Leinster left to anxiously wait over the scan results.

Should McGrath be ruled out for an extended period of time, Leinster may find themselves in a position of having to drop one of Scott Fardy or James Lowe — both outstanding here today — for the Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens on 1 April.

That situation may not come to pass, but became a possibility with the sight of McGrath immediately looking in some distress and hobbling from the field of play on an afternoon he hoped to push his case for international selection.

“Luke, with his knee, we’ll see,” Cullen said.

“I’m not sure. He has a bag of ice on it but he is moving around ok. He will get it scanned. He was due to go back into camp but we will make some assessments on what is best for his recovery.”

The immediate concern for McGrath will be his involvement in the remainder of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign having been released by Joe Schmidt for provincial duty, but Leinster can ill-afford to lose another player heading into the business end of the season.

Should McGrath be ruled out of the visit of Saracens to Dublin in six weeks, Leinster would have to choose between Fardy and Lowe for their matchday squad given Jamison Gibson-Park — who sat out today — would come in to deputise at scrum-half, and only two of the province’s Antipodeans are permitted to be picked, as per Pro14 and Champions Cup rules.

Leinster’s midfield stocks are also perilously low at present, and the loss of Rory O’Loughlin to a head injury as early as the 13th minute compounded that issue.

The centre collided with Scarlets captain Steff Hughes in midfield and after leaving the field for a Head Injury Assessment, never returned.

“Rory is ok,” Cullen reported.

Ross Byrne also struggled through periods of the second half after suffering a knock to his hip but stayed on, with Leinster now facing into a short turnaround ahead of the visit of the Kings to the RDS next Friday.

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Lowe-inspired Leinster battle hard to see off Pro14 rivals Scarlets

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Ryan Bailey

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