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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 11 May 2021

Leinster's McGrath to miss Six Nations, Patterson registered for Europe

The 25-year-old has been cruelly denied a place in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad.

LEINSTER SCRUM-HALF Luke McGrath is likely to miss out on involvement in the Six Nations, with his province confirming that a knee ligament injury he suffered against Toulouse last week will keep him sidelined for up to eight weeks. 

25-year-old McGrath was set to be part of Joe Schmidt’s squad for the upcoming championship but has been cruelly denied by injury for the second year in a row. 

Luke McGrath goes off injured McGrath suffered the knee ligament injury against Toulouse. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

From Leinster’s point of view, McGrath’s injury means Jamison Gibson-Park will come into the number nine jersey for this weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup clash with Wasps, while Hugh O’Sullivan is set to provide cover from the bench.

Leinster have also registered academy scrum-half Paddy Patterson to their European squad, taking the place of the injured Nick McCarthy.

“It’s very unfortunate for him, for us, for the national side to lose someone of his calibre,” said Leinster assistant coach John Fogarty of McGrath’s injury.

“We’re lucky in that we’ve got Jamison, Hugh and Patrick, so we’re moving on. We have to plan for a big game against Wasps.

“Luke is a very upbeat guy, a very positive guy, so he’s already focusing on having a good day one done. He’s focusing forward. It’s eight weeks, it’s not the end of the world. He’ll get an opportunity to get himself right and there’s a lot of rugby left in this season, a lot of rugby.

“That’s what he’s going to focus on, get back and get ready for quarter-finals rugby in Europe and a tough run-in in the Pro14.”

Fogarty confirmed that Leinster will not be seeking a short-term injury cover signing while McGrath is sidelined.

“We’re not thinking of bringing in someone from outside the province,” he said. “We work very hard within the province to supply as many players as we possibly can from the province.”

Fogarty backed academy pair O’Sullivan and Patterson to step up if and when required.

O’Sullivan has made six appearances off the bench for Leinster in the Pro14 this season, while Patterson made his senior debut as a replacement in the win over the Dragons in December.

The fact that Gibson-Park will be required at scrum-half this weekend means Leinster also have a tough decision to make on which of Scott Fardy or James Lowe to select, due to the limitation of having only two ‘non-European players’ in their squad.

With Lowe suspended last weekend, Fardy was impressive in Leinster’s second row against Toulouse, while Gibson-Park made an impact off the bench. Lowe is available again this weekend, meaning a tough call for Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster.

“It’s a good problem,” said Fogarty. “It is a problem but it’s a really good problem. That will shape up the way it shapes up, those decisions will be made during the week.

“We’re very lucky we have those three players and it’s going to be a headache for Leo and Stuart.”

Meanwhile, Munster have registered prop Liam O’Connor to their Heineken Champions Cup squad, with Brian Scott de-registered.

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Murray Kinsella

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