NEW IRELAND COACH Noel McNamara has been dealt a significant injury blow ahead of the U20 Six Nations with news that Caelan Doris will miss the tournament with a grade two hamstring tear.
The number eight suffered the injury during the warm-up game against a Leinster development side at Donnybrook before Christmas and now faces a minimum of eight weeks on the sideline.
Doris, who is in the first year of the Leinster academy programme but has recently featured for the province’s ‘A’ team, also missed the pool stages of last summer’s U20 World Championship through injury.
The loss of the 19-year-old is a huge setback for Ireland heading into their campaign opener against France on 2 February following his powerful performances during last year’s championship.
Doris started all five games during the 2017 Six Nations when playing a year young at that age level and was added to Leinster’s squad for their Pro14 trip to South Africa earlier in the season as injury cover.
As it stands, there are no other major injury concerns for Ireland heading into the Six Nations following their games against Leinster and Munster development sides before and after Christmas.
Head coach McNamara, who has taken over from Peter Malone, is due to announce his squad for the tournament on the week of 22 January, with the likes of Conor Dean, Tommy O’Brien, Jonny Stewart and Jack Aungier all in line to be included.
Leinster Senior Schools Cup-winning duo with Belvedere Max Kearney and Hugh O’Sullivan have both been involved in the extended panel, while former St Andrew’s College man Peter Sullivan has impressed with three tries, including a match-winning brace against Munster at Thomond Park.
After the round one game in Brive, Ireland host Italy and Wales at Donnybrook before finishing their campaign with trips to Wales and England.
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