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Dublin: 18°C Monday 21 September 2020

O'Brien 'a little bit sore around his shoulder' after injury comeback lasts 40 minutes

The flanker was replaced at half-time of Leinster’s shock defeat to Benetton this evening.

O'Brien is now a major doubt for Scarlets next week.
O'Brien is now a major doubt for Scarlets next week.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Ryan Bailey reports from the RDS 

TO COMPOUND A disappointing night, Sean O’Brien is now highly unlikely to be fully fit for Leinster’s Champions Cup semi-final next week, after his comeback from injury lasted just 40 minutes.

In his first game back since injuring his shoulder against Scarlets in early March, O’Brien appeared to take another bang and didn’t come back out for the second half, with Leo Cullen stating afterwards that the flanker ‘was sore.’

O’Brien carried into contact a couple of times in the early exchanges of Leinster’s shock Pro14 defeat to Benetton at the RDS, but was otherwise quiet as he looked to get valuable minutes under his belt after an injury-plagued season to date.

The hope was that the 31-year-old would build up his match sharpness here tonight, with a view to coming back into contention for Saturday’s Champions Cup showdown with Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium.

“We’re just trying to manage Sean coming back,” Cullen said. “He’s a little bit sore around his shoulder, so we just wanted to manage him.

“The aim was to get through 40, see how he was at half time and really make a call at that stage and that’s what we did. He’s ok, good to get through that 40 minutes.”

Rory O’Loughlin, meanwhile, will follow the return to play protocols after failing a second-half Head Injury Assessment. The centre was caught full in the face by a clearance kick and left stricken on the turf, before being helped off.

Despite a purposeful start, Leinster were second best in many aspects of the game — not least up front — and a Trojan effort from the Benetton pack, coupled with a thrilling brand of rugby led by out-half Tommaso Allan, saw the Italians record a famous 17-15 victory.

Cullen’s side saw their opportunity to guarantee a home semi-final in the Pro14 with a game to spare disappear as they suffered a first-ever defeat to an Italian side in Dublin, and a first reversal at home since Scarlets raided the RDS in last year’s Pro12 semi-final.

The eastern province still require one point from their final regular season game — away to Connacht in a fortnight — to assure themselves of top spot in Conference B.

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Ryan Bailey

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