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Luke Fitzgerald staying positive despite another injury setback

The Leinster back is targeting a return to his province in time for the business-end of the PRO12.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IRELAND BACK LUKE Fitzgerald admits the disappointment he felt following his latest injury setback soon turned to relief when he found out his absence would be relatively short-term.

The 28-year-old suffered a medial knee ligament injury during Friday’s open training session at the Aviva Stadium. And the Leinster winger is now facing six to eight weeks on the sidelines, ruling him out of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign.

But having suffered a number of long-term injuries, most notably to his neck, knee, hip and groin, Fitzgerald is taking solace in the fact that he should be back in time for the business-end of Leinster’s PRO12 campaign.

An initial consultation revealed that the damage was to his medial ligament, and nothing more serious. And once renowned surgeon Ray Moran confirmed that was the case, following a scan, Fitzgerald was just delighted that he wouldn’t be spending the rest of his season doing rehab.

“The timing is just unlucky. It’s six to eight weeks. I got the news on Friday that it wasn’t going to end my season — which I was pretty concerned about given the nature of the injury,” Fitzgerald told Newstalk’s Off The Ball.

“It’s very disappointing obviously considering that it’s a crucial part of the season and coming off the back of playing pretty well for Ireland in my last two competitive games.”

Fitzgerald revealed that the injury occurred during a relatively tough session considering it was just over a week before the Wales game.

“Some of the guys hadn’t played last weekend and weren’t going to play the weekend just gone. So it was a rigorous session.

It was a bold tackling drill and I just got caught awkwardly. I was very annoyed at the time.

“I was frustrated at the time but a bit of perspective in these things can make things a little bit easier,” he added.

“I’ve been lucky enough in the last while. I was involved in the last Six Nations. I was involved in the World Cup, on the edge, and I feel that I made an impact in the last game (the quarter-final defeat to Argentina).

And while he has received plenty of support from people who are bemused by his seeming misfortune when it comes to fitness issues, the former Blackrock College man doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t feel that unlucky. I wasn’t guaranteed selection (for Ireland) anyway. From what I gather I would have been on the bench.

“You get over it pretty quick. You focus and set goals and get on to the rehab guys and make a bit of a plan going forward.

“Then you just watch the games as a supporter. You always want Ireland to do well and your team-mates to do well.”

Expectations

On the subject of his team-mates and their quest to score an historic third successive Six Nations title, Fitzgerald admits it will be tough.

He accepted that the loss of talisman and captain Paul O’Connell to retirement was massive but Fitzgerald was quick to highlight how Ireland have adapted to such situations in the past. Particularly when his Leinster and Ireland colleague Brian O’Driscoll called it a day.

“There’s a huge opportunity there. But I think it’s smart to manage the expectations from Joe’s (Schmidt) perspective.

There is a little bit of a transition with Paulie leaving. Even though players do come and go all the time.

“Drico left and the team still won the competition after he left. It comes down to how well the team adapts, we’ve shown in the past that we can definitely do that.

“It’s definitely a challenging period and the way the games fall is obviously tricky but I think with the squad we have there is no reason to think that we can’t be successful.

“Given the opportunity to make a bit of history as well, that will be an extra little bit of motivation for the guys.”

We’ll Leave It There So: Six Nations blow for Ireland and today’s sport

Testing circumstances but Briggs’ Ireland have quality to retain Six Nations title

 

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Alan Waldron

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