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Sean O'Brien seeing a specialist today in the hope of clearing up inner ear issue

The Tullow Tank’s unusual injury has persisted and a poor prognosis could impact Joe Schmidt’s plans for the Six Nations.

LEINSTER AND IRELAND flanker Sean O’Brien visited a specialist this morning in an attempt to add clarity to his ongoing inner ear problem, vestibular impairment.

O’Brien has not played or taken full contact training since being replaced after a head injury assessment during Leinster’s Champions Cup loss to Wasps three weeks ago.

Daniel Tobin and Sean O'Brien O'Brien walks to training last week with Leinster head of fitness Dan Tobin. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Since being diagnosed with vestibular impairment, the condition- which can present symptoms of vertigo, imbalance and distorted vision – has left Leinster unable to provide a time-frame for the openside’s return.

“Not full contact (training), he’s doing everything bar,” said defence coach Kurt McQuilkin about the Tullow man’s programme today.

“He’s training, but it’s still the inner ear issue. He had to go see the specialist this morning to see… it has improved, it’s just whether it’s improved enough for him to step out on the track at the weekend.”

Toulon on Sunday would appear to be an extremely optimistic return date from a sensitive issue that requires specialist consultation, however.

As you can imagine, Sean is a guy that wants to be playing rugby. So we’re hoping we’ll get good feedback from the specialist this afternoon at some stage.”

As the weekend clash with Glasgow Warriors was called off due to Storm Desmond, Leinster at least have no new injury concerns to add to the list. Instead, the existing issues for scrum-half Luke McGrath and centre Noel Reid have turned out to be ‘worse than expected’.

Having initially ruled him in contention to face Glasgow and then Toulon, McQuilkin now adjudges McGrath to be ‘a couple of weeks’ away from a return to fitness following a medial ligament strain in his knee.

There is also ligament damage in Noel Reid’s ankle after he rolled the joint in the win over Ulster. The 25-year-old will not return to the field until the New Year.

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Sean Farrell

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