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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 10 December, 2018

Concern for Joe Schmidt as scan reveals Best's hamstring tear

The Ireland captain is in a race against time to be fit for South Africa.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

RORY BEST’S RETURN to action has been delayed another month at least after the Ireland captain tore his hamstring in training last week.

The hooker was pictured ahead of Ulster’s victory over Scarlets on Friday night on crutches and the province have this evening confirmed he will be out for four to six weeks.

Best, who was expected to return following an extended summer break in the next two weeks, is now a serious doubt for the November internationals against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.

He will also miss Ulster’s first two Champions Cup pool games against Wasps and La Rochelle and joins an ever-lengthening injury list at Kingspan Stadium, with Marcell Coetzee, Charles Piutau, Craig Gilroy and Jean Deysel all sidelined.

While the initial prognosis suggests Best could conceivably recover to figure for Joe Schmidt’s side, he faces a race against time to build up the necessary match fitness and sharpness having not played since the Lions’ game against the Hurricanes on 27 June.

Should Best be unavailable for the Autumn Test matches, Schmidt will have to look at alternative options for both the captaincy and number two jersey.

Munster’s Peter O’Mahony would be one of the leading candidates to skipper Ireland, while Leinster duo Sean Cronin and James Tracy as well as Munster’s Niall Scannell and Dave Heffernan of Connacht would all come into the reckoning at hooker.

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Ryan Bailey

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