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Mike Ross in race to be fit for Ireland's Six Nations title defence

The veteran tighthead’s long run of Six Nations games may be at an end.

MIKE ROSS FACES a race to be fit for the Six Nations after suffering a hamstring strain in Leinster’s Champions Cup defeat to Toulon last weekend.

The 36-year-old has been Ireland’s first-choice tighthead prop for the entirety of Joe Schmidt’s reign as national coach, but the timing of his injury may open the door for Nathan White, Marty Moore or Tadhg Furlong.

Ireland team huddle Mike Ross Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ross has been virtually ever-present for Ireland in recent years, having started every single Six Nations game since the 2010 season. His remarkable run of championship starts now looks like it may be at an end, with Leinster confirming that Ross faces six weeks out with a high-grade hamstring strain.

34-year-old Nathan White and Furlong played back-up to Ross at this year’s World Cup, with Moore out injured.

Meanwhile, Leinster and Ireland loosehead prop Cian Healy’s appeal hearing will take place on Wednesday, after the province refused to accept a two-week ban handed to Healy last week.

The suspension was lifted for Saturday’s defeat to Toulon, but Leinster will now hope to see Healy freed to feature against Munster in the inter-provincial Guinness Pro12 tie at Thomond Park on 27 December. It is not expected that Healy will need to travel to Paris again for the appeal hearing.

Johnny Sexton is a doubt for the Munster game, as he sits out training early this week due to a quad strain he sustained last weekend. The out-half’s injury is similar to that which ruled him out of Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Sean O’Brien must come through a full week of training unscathed to prove his fitness and return from his recent struggle with vestibular impairment.

Leinster say they have not received any notification from the IRFU that international players will be held back from the inter-provincial clash with Munster.

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Murray Kinsella

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