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Henshaw, JVDF and Toner major doubts for Champions Cup quarter-final

The Ireland trio are unlikely to be fit for Leinster’s Aviva Stadium showdown against Ulster later this month.

ROBBIE HENSHAW’S INJURY frustration looks set to continue as the centre is now facing a race against time to be fit for Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster on Saturday week.

Henshaw has not played since starting at fullback in Ireland’s opening Six Nations game against England and as a dead leg continues to cause him problems, Leinster have confirmed he has not yet returned to on-field training.

Robbie Henshaw Henshaw has had a frustrating season. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

With the European showdown at the Aviva Stadium under two weeks away, Henshaw is a major doubt for Leo Cullen’s side, while Josh van der Flier and Devin Toner are also set to miss the quarter-final tie. 

Van der Flier is seeing a specialist on Tuesday to determine the extent of the groin injury he sustained during Ireland’s Six Nations win over France, while Toner is sidelined after ankle surgery.

“It’s very frustrating for Robbie,” Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster told The42 this afternoon. “I feel sorry for him. He’s had two different injuries that have had different lengths out and he’s so frustrated himself.

“We’ll see [for Ulster], he’s the not on field with us yet so obviously the clock is ticking towards Ulster. We’ll have a better idea come Monday/Tuesday next week but again you get to the point in a week where you can’t wait.

“He’s making progress, he’s not far off but as to make he’ll Ulster we’ll see.” 

It has been an injury-disrupted season for Henshaw after he missed three months before Christmas with a hamstring injury, although Rory O’Loughlin deputised in a midfield pairing with Garry Ringrose for Leinster during that period.

The return to fitness of Joe Tomane after hamstring surgery also adds to Leo Cullen’s midfield options for Ulster should Henshaw fail to come through, but O’Loughlin will be expected to start at inside centre after standout displays against Bath and Toulouse. 

Josh van der Flier goes off injured Leinster are waiting on news on JVDF. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

On van der Flier’s injury, Lancaster added: “He’s gone for a scan today and seeing the specialist tomorrow so we’ll find out a bit more. I don’t think he’ll be available for the next week or two, but as to how many weeks it’ll depend on tomorrow.”

Toner, who underwent ankle surgery after aggravating an existing injury against England, is making good progress in his rehabilitation and is actually ahead of schedule, but is ‘unlikely’ to be back for Ulster.  

Leinster aren’t expected to have any of their Ireland internationals back from Six Nations duty for this weekend’s Pro14 trip to Edinburgh, but Luke McGrath and Dan Leavy are set for much-needed game-time at Murrayfield, while Rhys Ruddock could also be involved.

“I don’t think there are any injury concerns, but as to whether we involve them is unlikely,” Lancaster said of the Ireland contingent. “They won’t be back with us until Wednesday, so it’s unlikely they’ll be available this week.”

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Ryan Bailey

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