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Ireland's Sean O'Brien has been ruled out of the World Cup

The 32-year-old will undergo hip surgery and miss six months of action.

IRELAND back row Sean O’Brien has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup due to injury.

The 32-year-old Leinster man had hoped to feature in the World Cup with Ireland later this year before a move to London Irish on a three-year contract but will now miss the tournament as he undergoes hip surgery.

Sean O'Brien dejected after the game O'Brien has won 56 caps for Ireland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leinster say the Carlow man has been ruled out for six months, as he faces surgery on a hip injury in the coming weeks.

This injury could mean that O’Brien’s international career is over, with the IRFU opting not to pick players based outside the country, although it’s not known if that policy will change under new head coach Andy Farrell, who takes over from Joe Schmidt after the World Cup.

The injury means that O’Brien’s time in Ireland has come to a cruel end ahead of his move to London Irish.

O’Brien made his Leinster debut in 2008 and played for the province 126 times in total, with his final appearance coming in the Champions Cup final against Saracens two weekends ago. He started in the 2011 and 2012 European final victories against Northampton and Ulster.

Fittingly, Leinster captain Johnny Sexton insisted on O’Brien lifting the Guinness Pro14 trophy in Glasgow yesterday, despite the back row not having played. 

Speaking afterwards, Sexton called O’Brien “one of the best players I’ve ever played with. As a forward, I’d say he’s the best.”

Sean O'Brien with the trophy O'Brien lifted the Leinster Pro14 trophy in Glasgow. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Twice a tourist with the Lions, O’Brien has also won 56 caps for Ireland and played in the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, as well as playing a central role in the 2015 Six Nations success under Joe Schmidt.

It’s certain that O’Brien would have earned considerably more caps but for injury problems throughout his career. O’Brien would likely have featured in a third World Cup in Japan.

Ireland are already without openside flanker Dan Leavy for the World Cup, with the Leinster man also ruled out due to a complex knee injury.

O’Brien now faces surgery ahead of his move to Premiership outfit London Irish next season on a three-year contract, where he is set to work under former Ireland boss Declan Kidney.

“Everyone at Leinster Rugby wishes Seán the very best of luck with his recovery and of course with his move to London Irish later in the year,” said the province in a statement confirming the back row’s injury.

Meanwhile, London Irish’s Kidney wished O’Brien well with his operation.

“We are disappointed for Sean that he is not in a position to compete for a place in the Ireland Rugby World Cup squad,” said Kidney.

“We wish him a successful operation and a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him to London Irish for the next stage of his career.”

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Murray Kinsella

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