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Leinster to take patient approach in managing James Ryan's return from latest head injury

The lock is set for some time out after suffering a concussion during Ireland’s Six Nations win over England.

Ireland and Leinster lock James Ryan.
Ireland and Leinster lock James Ryan.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

LEINSTER WILL TAKE their time in welcoming back James Ryan following the second row’s latest head injury issue.

Ryan has had to deal with a series of concussions over recent seasons, and is set for another break from the game after being forced off just two minutes into Ireland’s Six Nations defeat of England on 12 March, the 25-year-old shipping a heavy hit from Charlie Ewels – a tackle which saw the England lock red-carded.

Ryan was subsequently ruled out of last weekend’s Six Nations closer against Scotland, and his return-to-rugby protocols are now being managed by Leinster’s medical team.

The lock will not feature in Saturday’s URC meeting with Connacht and there is currently no timeline on his return to action, as Leinster look to take every precaution with his recovery. 

“We’re optimistic,” Cullen said.

“He obviously got a fair old whack in the game. It’s the type of tackle World Rugby are trying to get rid of. Everyone understands the red card even though Charlie Ewels may have had no intent. He got it wrong and it leads to a player going off the field and James takes a whack.

He seems to have come through OK. He’s not back with us. He is just having some downtime at the moment. And we’ll make sure he’s seen by all the right people and we’ll look after him as best as we can.

“That’s the hardest part of the game at the moment, head knocks. Let’s call a spade a spade. We want to make sure we’re doing best by the players and we’ll make sure he’s looked after as well as possible.”

As Leinster’s international contingent begin to filter back into the club, Cullen says the province will integrate their returning Ireland stars on a “case-by-case basis, depending on what they’ve done over the last while.”

The Leinster head coach also paid tribute to Devin Toner, who yesterday announced that he will retire at the end of the season. 

“When you see him first it’s like ‘Bloody hell, look at the size of your man!’ Irish people come up to people and do that, and I’ve had that experience. But then I did it with Dev.

“He’s just a different level of size. We’ve seen lots of pictures of him growing up in GAA and rugby teams and he’s so far beyond everyone in terms of physical size. He’s kneeling down and still taller than people standing in the back-row.

“So he’s an unusual shape and for him to develop into his body was going to take a bit of time. He has good subtle skills for someone his size.

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“When he was younger, I presume he was told to take it easy because he has a gentle nature. But over time, he has developed much more competitive instincts because the environment shapes you really, especially here. Guys like Michael Cheika who gave him his debut, he was the main one.

“He was a pleasure to work with it and the lists of achievements is incredible. It’s a phenomenal career really.”

Meanwhile, Leinster out-half Harry Byrne is due to train this week after recovering from a rib injury, while Ciarán Frawley will also return to training following a facial injury, and could come into the mix to feature against Connacht on Saturday.

A new episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness, is out now. After Ireland’s Triple Crown win, Murray Kinsella gives us the rundown on his team of the tournament. Ireland international Sene Naoupu also joins the panel to chat about her career and look ahead to the start of the Women’s Six Nations. Click here to subscribe or listen below:

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Ciarán Kennedy

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