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Cronin a concern for Newcastle final as Byrne to miss Leinster's run-in

The hooker sustained a calf injury during Sunday’s Champions Cup semi-final win over Toulouse.

SEÁN CRONIN HAS had a scan on the calf injury he sustained during Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final victory over Toulouse, and Leinster will now face an anxious wait over the hooker’s fitness for next month’s final.

Cronin was forced off after 34 minutes at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday and had his right calf heavily strapped at full-time, while also using a crutch as he joined Leinster’s on-pitch celebrations.

Seán Cronin leaves the field injured Cronin was forced off against Toulouse. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The 32-year-old — who is definitely out of Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 trip to Ulster — is currently working with the province’s medical staff to determine the exact prognosis, but scrum coach John Fogarty admits Cronin ‘is a concern’ for the Saracens showdown on 11 May.

Cronin does have a two-week window to be fit for the St’ James Park final as Leinster, courtesy of their automatic qualification for a home Pro14 semi-final, have a week off after this weekend ahead of Sarries.

“At the moment, he’s getting assessed,” Fogarty said this afternoon.

“We’re not quite sure how he’s going to pan out. He’s a pretty important player for us, but we have some time. Us doing so well in the Pro14 gives us next week to get people back and prep and train.

“Seán will need it to get himself back but we won’t know for sure just yet. It’s working out when he’ll get back, and we’re not quite there yet. He’ll be assessed and monitored and then there will be markers this week he has to hit. To say he’ll be back and flying it wouldn’t be truthful.”

Asked whether Cronin is an injury doubt for Leinster’s fifth European final, Fogarty added: “At this moment in time, he can’t train or play. Hopefully, he’ll do a small bit of running later in the week but he’s getting assessed now. Right now, he’s a concern.”

There was also bad news for Adam Byrne over the weekend after a scan showed the winger’s quad injury will rule him out for the remainder of the season. He suffered the issue during Leinster’s defeat to Glasgow Warriors two weeks ago.

Rhys Ruddock, meanwhile, will re-enter the graduated return to play protocols under the supervision of Leinster’s medical team after being a late withdrawal from Sunday’s starting XV through illness.

Rhys Ruddock Ruddock is sidelined again this week. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The flanker — again unavailable this week — felt unwell during the pre-game captain’s run and was withdrawn by the medics, with Scott Fardy promoted off the bench. 

“In a game like that semi-final, we need to make sure everyone is 100% so they can commit hard to it,” Fogarty explained. “Rhys didn’t feel quite right so they pulled him. That’s pretty much it, he wasn’t 100%. They’re going to assess him again this week.”

Both Andrew Porter [pectoral muscle] and Jamison Gibson-Park [hamstring] missed the 30-12 victory over the Top 14 leaders, and both will be the subject of further assessment this week before a final decision is made on their availability for Ulster [KO 5.15pm, eir Sport/Premier Sports].

With a home semi-final already assured, Leo Cullen is expected to ring the changes for the final game of the regular Pro14 season, with many of Leinster’s frontline players to be wrapped in cotton wool ahead of the Champions Cup final.

Josh van der Flier [groin], Dan Leavy [knee] and Mick Kearney [shoulder] are all long-term absentees, but Ross Molony [back] is progressing well and could return before the end of the campaign. 

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Ryan Bailey

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