Henshaw set to miss start of Ireland's Six Nations defence

The centre’s hamstring injury is worse than first feared.

ROBBIE HENSHAW HAS emerged as an injury doubt for the start of Ireland’s Six Nations defence in February, after the centre’s hamstring problem was diagnosed as worse than first feared following further assessment. 

Henshaw has been sidelined since the second week of November and Leinster today confirmed he will be out of action for up to another eight weeks, with Ireland’s championship opener against England set for 2 February 2019.

Robbie Henshaw who was a late withdrawal due to injury Henshaw was a late withdrawal before Ireland's November Test against Argentina. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The 26-year-old sustained the injury in the build-up to Ireland’s November Test win over Argentina last month, pulling out of Joe Schmidt’s starting XV at the last minute before missing the concluding fixtures of the Autumn series against the All Blacks and USA.

The initial prognosis was that he would be out for a period of four to six weeks, but the damage is more severe than first anticipated.  

If Leinster’s timeframe for Henshaw’s comeback is accurate, the 36-time capped international is unlikely to be fit for the visit of Eddie Jones’ side to the Aviva Stadium, before Ireland travel to Murrayfield in round two.

Henshaw’s lay-off also means he will miss Leinster’s return Champions Cup meeting with Bath at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, the entire festive and New Year period, including the Pro14 inter-pros against Connacht, Munster and Ulster, and the final two pool games in Europe.

Noel Reid partnered Garry Ringrose in the province’s midfield for Saturday’s round three win at the Rec, while Rory O’Loughlin is back fit again to offset the loss of the long-term absentees Joe Tomane and Fergus McFadden. 

Meanwhile, Leinster are hopeful of having Johnny Sexton in harness for this weekend’s Pool 1 rematch with Bath [KO 5.30pm, BT Sport] in Dublin after the out-half was withdrawn with a calf injury on Saturday.

Sexton will be further assessed as the week goes on, while Jack Conan, Dan Leavy, Jordan Larmour and O’Loughlin all came through the game with no issues after their respective returns from injury.

“Johnny got a bang on his calf so we’re not treating it as too serious,” Stuart Lancaster said this afternoon.

“That was the reason he came off, it wasn’t any more than that.

Ross Byrne celebrates scoring a late penalty with Johnny Sexton Sexton was withdrawn after 75 minutes on Saturday. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“But obviously we need to give it time to settle and hopefully he’ll recover for the weekend, but we can’t say any more at the moment.

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“We want to give him as much time as possible, but if not then Ross [Byrne] will be ready.

“Ross is a quality player, he was outstanding against Dragons and in my mind more than earned his international call-up and he proved that when he’s played in the Autumn series as well.

“We’ve every confidence in Ross if Johnny’s not available.” 

Nick McCarthy, however, has been ruled out for up to 12 weeks after the scrum-half sustained a foot injury in last month’s Pro14 win over the Ospreys, but Barry Daly is making progress in his comeback from a knee problem. 

McFadden [hamstring], Jack McGrath [hip], Seán O’Brien [arm], Tomane [hamstring] and Will Connors [ACL] remain long-term absentees.  

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Ryan Bailey

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