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Freak injury rules O'Leary out of England game

Irish medics estimate that the scrum-half will be out of action for two to three weeks.

IRELAND COULD BE caught short at scrum-half for this weekend’s Six Nations showdown against England after it emerged this afternoon that Tomás O’Leary hurt himself in a freak accident in training.

A statement released through the IRFU website confirmed that the scrum-half was undergoing speed training with a sled when one of the straps snapped, striking him in the left eye. The impact of the strap caused bleeding in the 27-year-old’s eye and, although that stabilised shortly afterwards, the injury is likely to see him out of action for two to three weeks.

In addition to missing this weekend’s international test, he will almost certainly miss Munsters trip to Cardiff for their Magners League clash against the Blues on March 25. A more realistic target for his reappearance seems to be the side’s inter-provincial clash against Leinster at Thomond Park on the second of April.

The news of O’Leary’s injury comes at a particularly bad time for Declan Kidney. As reported here earlier today, he is still waiting on Eoin Reddan’s prognosis before naming his side for Saturday’s contest. The Leinster man suffered a concussion after just one minute of last weekend’s defeat to Wales when he was struck in the face by a full-blooded clearance from Welsh full-back Lee Byrne.

The severity of his concussion is currently being assessed in accordance with the IRB’s ‘return to play’ protocols.

If he is deemed unfit to take part at the weekend, Ireland may have to look further afield for a replacement scrum-half to supplement Peter Stringer. The most likely option will be Reddan’s Leinster team-mate Isaac Boss who has been consistent in his appearances for the province thus far this season.

Meanwhile, French coach Marc Lièvremont has apologised for his comments following his side’s surprise defeat to Italy last weekend.

In the aftermath of the game at the Stadio Flamini, Lièvremont claimed that he was “ashamed” by the effort put in by some of his squad, stating that many of them would never play for him again.

He subsequently rowed back from these comments, stating that the outburst “was clumsy of me, although I still maintain that changes have to be made”.

There was a feeling of injustice after I dropped five or six players and made them scapegoats while the defeat was a collective one.

Unsurprisingly, Lièvremont has rung the changes for Saturday’s game against Wales, recalling Damien Traille, David Marty, Alexis Palisson, Imanol Harinordoquy and Thomas Domingo to the starting 15.

France team v Wales: M Medard (Toulouse); V Clerc (Toulouse), D Marty (Perpignan), D Traille (Biarritz), A Palisson (Brive); F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), M Parra (Clermont); T Domingo (Clermont), W Servat (Toulouse), N Mas (Perpignan), J Pierre (Clermont), L Nallet (Racing-Metro), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), J Bonnaire (Clermont), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz).

Replacements: G Guirado (Perpignan), L Ducalcon (Castres), P Pape (Stade Francais), A Lapandry (Clermont), J Tomas, (Montpellier), F Estebanez (Brive), Y Huget (Bayonne).

Read more of TheScore.ie’s Six Nations coverage here >

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Niall Kelly

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