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Furlong's injury frustration continues as Leinster's tighthead stocks run low

The Wexford man last played in February, while Ciaran Parker has now been ruled out.

Furlong last played back in February for Ireland.
Furlong last played back in February for Ireland.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

LEINSTER HAVE OPTED against putting a timeframe on Tadhg Furlong’s possible return to action as the tighthead prop continues to be frustrated by a calf issue.

The Ireland tighthead prop hasn’t played since the return of Irish rugby in August due to injury, first a back issue and more recently the calf injury. His most recent game was back in February during the Six Nations.

There had been some hope that the 28-year-old Wexford man was nearing a return but Leinster yesterday ruled him out of this weekend’s Pro14 clash with Cardiff Blues, stating that “unfortunately, he hasn’t progressed as the physio team would have liked from his calf injury.”

Leinster assistant coach Felipe Contepomi says they would love to have Furlong back by the time the Champions Cup kicks off next month but couldn’t reveal any specific target date.

“We have to give him a bit more time,” said Contepomi. “When you have those sorts of injuries, soft tissue and some of those injuries, you can’t predict.

“It’s not straightforward with a timetable, sometimes you have small setbacks and you don’t progress as you wanted to.

“We’re not going to hurry or rush someone just for the sake of playing. We want to make sure that when he steps onto the field, he’s ready to succeed. That’s the point where we’re at at the moment.

“We shouldn’t give a timeframe because it’s just creating false expectations on him or anyone.”

With Andrew Porter away on Ireland duty, Leinster had brought former Munster tighthead Ciaran Parker in on a short-term loan deal from Jersey Reds and he had made a good impression in recent weeks.

ciaran-parker-scores-a-try Ciaran Parker has also suffered an injury. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

However, Parker has sustained a thumb injury that requires surgery and will now be missing for several weeks.

With Vakh Abdaladze also sidelined due to a long-term back injury, that leaves Leinster with 34-year-old stalwart Michael Bent and 20-year-old academy prop Tom Clarkson as their only two tighthead options.

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Contepomi said there have been no moves to bring in another tighthead on a short-term deal, while hinting that one of Leinster’s loosehead props could shift across to the other side of the scrum.

That said, Leinster are already a little shallow there with Cian Healy and Ed Byrne on Ireland duty, leaving Peter Dooley as their only senior squad loosehead and academy prop Michael Milne as the other option.

“We are very slim in terms of tighthead but it’s also an opportunity for the guys that are here and maybe even some… not changing, but adapting position-wise, maybe a loosehead could play tighthead and so on,” said Contepomi.

“If we need a back-up, we always say it has to be the right fit. It’s not just bringing someone in for the sake of it or chucking someone in.

“Also, it’s where do you get a player from, it’s not that there are just lots of tightheads going around. They’re a precious species. That’s the balance we’re looking at.”

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Murray Kinsella

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